Skip to main content

Full text of "Tennessee county history series : Fayette County / by Dorothy Rich Morton ; Charles W. Crawford, editor"

See other formats










3 2109 00683 8487 


Tennessee County History Series 


Frank B. Williams, Jr., Editor for East Tennessee 
Robert B. Jones, Editor for Middle Tennessee 
Charles W. Crawford, Editor for West Tennessee 
J. Ralph Randolph, Coordinator 

Anne B. Hurley 


Fayette County 

by Dorothy Rich Morton 

Charles W. Crawford 



Memphis, Tennessee 

Copyright © 1989 by Memphis State University Press 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or 
utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical 
(including photocopying and recording) or by any information 
storage and retrieval system, without permission from the 

Maps prepared by MSU Cartographic Services Laboratory 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

Designed by Gary G. Gore 



This work is the resuh of cooperative effort on the part of a 
number of people interested in preserving the history of Fayette 
County. To all who contributed in any way, I am deeply gratefid. 

Several people need to be singled out for special recognition. 
Among them are William David Smith, County Executive, who 
contributed the chapter on our hrst inhabitants, the Indians; 
Steve Brimson, Past President of the Tennessee Association of 
Conservation Districts, who contributed the information on con- 
servation; Dr Bunny Hunt, former instructor at Fayette-Ware 
Comprehensive High School, who permitted the use of her doc- 
toral dissertation on the desegregation of the Fayette (bounty 
School System; and Chip Ragon, photographer, who prepared 
illustrations from old prints. 

Two who were most generous with their time and talent were 
Bernice Cargill of Piperton and Anne Crawford of Williston. 
These friends conducted much of the research, provided many 
of the photos for illustrations, proofread the first draft of the 
manuscript, offered constructive criticism, and gave support in 
every way possible. I am deeply indebted to them for their help. 

Dorothy Rich Morton 


This book is dedicated to my husband, Jack, with- 
out whose help and understanding this work 
could not have been completed and to our chil- 
dren, Joe and Jan, the joy of our todays and the 
hope of all our tomorrows. 

^^AYETTE County is located in the southwestern part of the 
state, being bordered on the west by Shelby County, on the north 
by Tipton and Haywood, on the east by Hardeman County, and 
on the south by the state of Missisippi. The county encompasses 
704 square miles, making it the third largest county in the state, 
exceeded in size by only Shelby and Wayne counties. 

All of the county is in the Mississippi River watershed, and 
the larger streams flow westward. The southern part is drained 
by Wolf River and Nonconnah Creek, the central and north- 
western part by the Loosahatchie River, and the northeastern 
part by tributaries of the Hatchie River 

The average altitude is about 400 feet, ranging from 270 feet 
near Callaway to about 600 feet near LaGrange. Fayette County 
is well-suited to agriculture, having a growing season of over 200 
days and an average precipitation of approximately 50 inches. 
During the early days of its settlement, the county depended 
almost entirely upon agriculture for its economy, but recently 
more attention has been given to industrialization. Agriculture 
and timber are still the principal resources. 

A good system of transportation affords easy access to mar- 
kets, both for importing and exporting products. The highway 
system includes approximately a thousand miles of county and 

r^Tir,I^^v I HAYWOOD 





M I S S I 



P P I 

K,;o™i^. 1 

? 3 4 5 

6 7 8 


2 3 

4 5 



• Other Communities 

A^ Interstafe Route 
-[to^ Federal Route 
Ji^ Sfofe Route 
^ Local Route 


Major Strearr)s 

Minor Streams 

SOURCE Tennessee Department ol Transportation 


state maintained roadways. U.S. Highway 64 traverses the cen- 
tral part of the county from east to west, and U.S. Highway 70 
extends across the northwest corner of the county, as does In- 
terstate 40. Several truck lines serve the county. 

Rail service is also available, with the Norfolk Southern Rail- 
way crossing the southern portion, and the Louisville and Nash- 
ville the northwestern corner. 

The major source of revenue is the property tax. Other 
sources are the sales tax and the wheel tax. 

The 1970 census showed a population of 22,692, the racial 
proportion being 61% black and 39% white. The decade of the 
'70s saw a growth in population and a change in racial balance, 
the 1980 census revealing a count of 25,305, with 51% black and 
49% white. 

There are presently nine incorporated towns in the county: 
Braden, Gallaway, LaGrange, Moscow, Oakland, Piperton, Ross- 
ville, Somerville, and Williston. Unincorporated villages include 
Hickory Withe, Laconia, Longtown, and Macon. Somerville is 
the county seat. 

Although Fayette Countians are justly proud of their county 
as it is today, they also look back with pride upon their heritage. 
A sesquicentennial celebrated in 1974 highlighted the progress 
made during its 150 years of existence. Many antebellum homes 
attest to the wealth and culture of the early settlers. Two towns 
have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
LaGrange, a town noted in pre-Civil War days as a center of ar- 
istocracy, was the first to receive this distinction. Later, a large 
portion of Somerville, including the business area surrounding 
the courthouse and extending to numerous residences through- 
out the town, was named to this prestigious group. The W. C. 
Crawford store at Williston also has been designated a historic 
site, as have a number of residences scattered throughtout the 

4 Tennessee County History Series 

First Inhabitants: The Indians 

While walking across plowed fields or garden plots in Fayette 
County today one may stumble upon a flint arrowhead. These 
chipped stone artifacts are the only remaining evidence of prim- 
itive people who inhabited this land for thousands of years and 
whose ancestry spanned hundreds of generations. 

The first white settlers in this area found it inhabited by In- 
dians who had a language, a form of government, a religion, and 
agriculture. These Indians called themselves "Chicawca"; to the 
settlers they were known as the Chickasaws. The ancestors of the 
Chickasaw people had migrated into North America many thou- 
sands of years earlier It is fairly certain that Indians had reached 
the region of Fayette County by 15,000 years ago. 

The Paleo-Indians are considered to have been the first In- 
dians. Only a few artifacts of the Paleo culture have been found 
in the county. These people lived in harsh times, when the Pleis- 
tocene glacier covered much of North America. 

The Paleo-Indians were succeeded by an Indian culture of 
long duration known as Archaic. Many artifacts can be found 
over Fayette County today as evidence of this culture, which 
lasted from 10,000 years ago to about 3000 years ago. Things 
began to change as the Ice Age drew to a close and the climate 
slowly became warmer and drier During this transitional period, 
a culture developed which predated the Archaic. It is referred 
to as the Dalton period, a name derived from the type of spear 
tip these people fashioned from flint, which is called the Dalton 
point. It was during the Dalton period that the Indian popula- 
tion first began to grow. Many sites throughout Fayette County 
today show evidence of the Dalton people, one of the most pro- 
ductive sites being about a mile east of Moscow in the floodplain 
of Wolf River, where several complete and broken points have 
been found. 

The early stages of the Archaic culture were similar to the 
Dalton. The Indians developed many different types of spear 
tips, examples of which have been found at sites where they 
camped along the floodplains of the Wolf and Loosahatchie riv- 


ers. After some 7000 years, the archaic culture gave way to an- 
other called the Woodland. In this period, which lasted from 
about 1000 B.C. to about 500 a.d., pottery was introduced. Ex- 
perimentation with the growing of selected food plants began to 
take place, a social order developed, and extravagant burial cus- 
toms with large dome-shaped earthen burial mounds evolved. 
A small burial mound is located east of Moscow on the North 
Fork of Wolf River, and in a field adjacent to it can be found 
artifacts of the Woodland and earlier Indians. Almost all of Fay- 
ette County was inhabited to some extent by the Woodland 

The Mississippian culture followed that of the Woodland In- 
dians, lasting from approximately 500 a.d. to 1800 a.d. The Mis- 
sissippian Indians developed a sophisticated social order, with 
chieftains ruling over the people. Large flat-topped earth 
mounds were constructed, on top of which the chieftains temple 
was built. One such temple mound about 20 feet high can be 
found with two smaller mounds on the Ames Plantation. A few 
other temple mounds exist today in other parts of the county, 
but most have been destroyed. 

By the mid 1 500s, the Chickasaws were organized as a nation. 
They controlled all of what is now West Tennessee and the north- 
ern part of Mississippi. They reserved the area of Fayette 
County and West Tennessee as a hunting ground, traveling from 
their larger towns in north Mississippi to search for game. 

Eventually the Chickasaws yielded their homeland to the axe 
and plow of the white settlers. In 1 8 1 8 all of West Tennessee was 
purchased from the Chickasaw nation, and the Indians were re- 
moved to regions west of the Mississippi River All that is left to 
remind us of this proud handsome race of people are the many 
small arrow points found throughout the county, probably lost 
on hunting trips during the era preceding the coming of the 
white man. 

Tennessee County History Series 

Arrow points found in Fayette County (from David Smith's collection). 

Early Settlers 

Soon after the signing of the Treaty of 1818, which opened 
up the Western district, settlers began to pour into the area from 
the Carolinas, Virginia, Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee. They 
came by families and groups of families and settled in neigh- 
borhoods in the new territory. Many of them were of Scotch- 
Irish heritage. 

It is difficult to establish exactly who the earliest settler was. 
The first few pioneers arrived within a year or two after the sign- 
ing of the treaty. According to Goodspeed s History of Tennessee 
( 1 887) and interviews with old settlers published in the Somerville 
Reporter and Falcon in the 1880s, some came as early as 1820. A 
list of some who came between 1820 and 1829 follows. They are 
representative of all the earliest settlers. Many of them spent the 
rest of their lives here, and some have descendants still living in 
the county. 

Robert Glover Thornton, who was born March 6, 1761, on 
the Isle of St. Croix, West Indies, came to America at the age of 
15 and lived in Edgecombe County, NC, Hancock County, VA, 


and Maury County, TN, prior to settling on the waters of the 
North Fork of Wolf River in 1820 on land that became Fayette 
County in 1824. Robert G. Thornton and his wife, Mary Foxhall, 
had nine children. Their daughter Sarah married Henry Kirk; 
daughter Charity married John Patterson; daughter Mary mar- 
ried James H. Graves, an early Fayette County surveyor Robert 
Glover Thornton's home was the site of the first session of Fay- 
ette County Court, held on December 6, 1824. Thornton him- 
self had died before October 9, 1826. 

John T. Patterson, Thorntons son-in-law, made an exploring 
trip to this area in 1819 and moved here in 1820. Patterson par- 
ticipated in the organization of the county and died here in 1 842. 
His gravestone is in Ebenezer Cemetery. 

Henry Kirk, another son-in-law of Thornton, was also one 
of the organizers of the county and was a resident here on Feb- 
ruary 4, 1823, on land that was then called the "Territorial 
County east of Shelby County" (see Shellby County minutes). 
Henry Kirk died here in 1844, and was probably buried in the 
family burial ground north of Moscow. 

Daniel Johnson was one of the justices present on December 
6, 1824, at the meeting of the first court. He lived just west of 
Robert Glover Thorntons house. He was the first postmaster 
ever appointed in Fayette County, being appointed to the Wolf 
River Post Office on the North Fork in 1825. He died here in 
1842, leaving a widow. Love C.Johnson, and several children. 

Major George Bowers (who served in the War of 1812 while 
still a resident of Edgecombe County, NC) on March 5, 1825, 
deeded 25 acres of his land entry in Fayette County for part of 
the site for the seat of justice. By April 13, 1826, he had settled 
in Fayette County where he became a county leader and prom- 
inent citizen. He died in 1850, leaving several children, and was 
buried in the family cemetery northwest of Somerville. 

Thomas Jones Cocke came to Fayette County about 1822 
and became a major land owner and planter In 1802 he had 
married Lucy Watkins Nicholson in Nottoway County, VA. He 
died in 1845 and is buried in Somerville. Benjamin Cocke was 
also an early settler. 

8 Tennessee County History Series 

Dr. Josiah Higgason, born in 1801 in Hanover County, VA, 
came to Fayette County in 1829 and married Amy Elizabeth 
Cocke. That same year he built Frogmore, the home which still 
stands on Main Street in Somerville and is occupied by his de- 
scendants. He is buried in Somerville Cemetery. 

John Bennett settled southeast of Somerville and died in Fay- 
ette County in 1824. The December 1824 court minutes gave 
administration of his estate to his widow, Elizabeth, and one of 
his sons, George W. Bennett. It was the first estate settled by the 
new4y organized Fayette County Court. In February of 1825 the 
election for governor was held at the widows house. 

Green Lee Bennett, another son of John Bennett, said in an 
interview in the Somerville Reporter and Falcon in the 1880s that 
his father came to Fayette County in 1820 and stopped at Robert 
Glover Thornton's settlement on the North Fork of Wolf River, 
staying until 1821. He then moved on to Bennett Creek, which 
was named for him because he was the first to settle there. Green 
Lee Bennett died in 1895 and was buried in Asbury Cemetery. 

Joseph Simpson was one of the earliest settlers in the county, 
arriving in 1822. Jesse Simpson and Squire Simpson, possibly 
related to Joseph, were also early residents here in 1824. 

Samuel Martin, a Revolutionary soldier, was born in 1756 in 
King and Queen County, VA, and came to Fayette County in 
1826. He died in 1844, leaving a will that named a son John W., 
daughters Elizabeth Hawkins and Patsy Martin, and grand- 
daughter Susannah Stribling. Samuel Martin s burial place is un- 
known, but it was almost certainly in the southwest corner of the 
county where he settled near Wolf River. Martins Bridge Road 
was named for him. 

Curtis Rich, born in Virginia in 1805, came to Tennessee in 
1817, settling with his family first in Wilson County before 
"going west" to Fayette County. He received a grant of 200 acres 
on Shaw's Creek, a tributary of the Wolf. That he was a resident 
here in 1827 is shown by the October 10 minutes of Fayette 
County Court wherein he was called to jury service. He died in 
Fayette County in 1835, leaving a widow, Louisa C. Rich, and 
several children. Louisa died in 1840. Their eldest son, Charles 


Wesley Rich, born 1824, remained in Fayette County, where he 
died in 1907. He is buried in Friendship Cemetery near Moscow. 

Daniel W. Head served jury duty in Fayette County in De- 
cember of 1824, as did John Head. Daniel had a land grant sit- 
uated just south of the North Fork of Wolf River Head's Ferry 
was used to cross Wolf River 

Jarman Koonce served on the jury during that same month, 
as did Lemuel and Amos Koonce. Jarman settled around 
Somerville and was the first County Registrar 

Leander Black, born in 1798 in York District, SC, came to 
Fayette County in 1823. He died in 1867 and was buried in As- 
bury Cemetery. He was married three times and was the father 
of fifteen children. 

Nathaniel Blain, son of George Blain, was born about 1770 
in Albemarle County, VA. He married Mary Perkins and mi- 
grated to Fayette County about 1826. Their children married 
into the Hamner, Abington, Kirk, and Pleasants families. De- 
scendants of Nathaniel Blain still live in the county. 

Charles Michie was born in 1799 in Virginia and was said to 
have served in the War of 1812. He bought land in Fayette 
County in 1827, part of the thousand-acre tract belonging to the 
trustees of the University of North Carolina just east of the vil- 
lage of LaGrange. Here he became an active and respected cit- 
izen, starting his plantation, Woodlawn, the manor house of 
which still stands on a 370-acre plot of the original plantation on 
the outskirts of LaGrange. Charles Michie died on April 23, 
1872, at the age of 73. 

John Anderson and his brother George came to Fayette 
County in 1827 from Warren County, NC, and settled in La- 
Grange where they were leading citizens and early communi- 
cants of Immanuel Episcopal Church. George died a bachelor 
in 1844. John Anderson died in LaGrange in 1848, leaving his 
widow, Elizabeth Gloster Anderson, and several children. 

Robert Cotton from Edgecombe County, NC, was an early 
resident of Fayette County. His plantation was just north of 
LaGrange. He died here in 1836. Joseph, John, and Henry Cot- 
ton were also early Fayette County residents. 

10 Tennessee County History Series 

Shadrackjai man was one of the county s first settlers. He was 
one of the judges of the precinct election held at Robert Thorn- 
tons house on the North Fork of Wolf River (Shelby County 
Comt minutes, August 4, 1823). He died in Fayette County in 
1828, leaving heirs. 

Edmond D. Tarver, born in 1788 in North Carolina, was in 
Fayette County before 1824. He was appointed chairman of the 
Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in December of 1824 and 
later served as Justice of the Peace. 

Peter Randolph Bland of Nottoway County, VA, with wife 
Sarah and widowed sister, Sallie Dickens Brodnax, came to Fay- 
ette County in 1824 and settled their Woodlawn Plantation in 
the northwest part of the county near the village of Belmont. He 
was a Presbyterian minister and planter. Cornelius Bland was 
also an early resident of the county. 

Iredell Reding was born in 1791 in North Carolina and with 
his wife Patsy (Martha) had arrived in Fayette County by 1825. 
He immediately took an active role in county affairs, having set- 
tled about ten miles north of LaGrange near the Hardeman 
County line. He died in 1864 in Montgomery County, TX. 

Graves Hester, a native of Mecklenburg County, VA, came to 
Fayette County by 1827 from Giles County, TN. Chisholm Hes- 
ter was also here by that time. Graves died here shortly before 

Benjamin Branch was in Fayette County by 1827 when he 
served as a juror. He settled several miles south of Somerville in 
what is now the Williston area and reared a large family. He died 
in 1855 and is buried in Ebenezer Cemetery. 

The Reverend Israel Sidney Pickens, who came to Fayette 
County in 1827, was born in South Carolina in 1799. His father, 
Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War soldier, lived with Israel. 
Andrew died about 1844, and Israel, a Cumberland Presbyter- 
ian minister, died in 1876. 

Moses Parks, born in 1793 in Mecklenburg County, NC, and 
his wife Sally came to Fayette County in 1829 and setded about 
seven miles southeast of Somerville on land that Moses had en- 
tered in 1823 by Land Entry No. 52 for 325 acres. Moses died 


in 1868 and was buried in Old Parks Cemetery near where he 
lived. His descendants still live in the area. 

William Owen, one of the first settlers in Fayette County, was 
appointed coroner in December of 1 824. He was coowner of the 
first watermill in 1825, seven miles southeast of Somerville. He 
died in 1827. In 1873, when Robert G. Patterson sold 40 acres 
of Owen's home tract, he reserved one-half acre which "included 
the graves of William Owen and his wife." 

David Jernigan, another of the earliest settlers, was present 
at the first meeting of the County Court held on December 6, 
1824, at Robert G. Thorntons house, and was appointed trustee, 
a position he held for five years. He was born in 1789 in Wayne 
County, NC, and died in Fayette County in 1842. His tombstone 
stands in the woods on what is now a part of the Ames Plantation 
southeast of Somerville near the Hardeman County line. 

Dr. Amos David was born October 22, 1792 in Virginia and 
fought in the Battle of New Orleans. He married first Lucy Dev- 
ereux Jarrett and second Minerva Garland. He left Giles County, 
TN, about 1822 or 1823 and had arrived in Fayette County by 
May of 1825, when he served on the jury. He practiced medicine 
in the county for many years. He also served as postmaster at 
LaGrange in 1828 and was postmaster at Wolf River Post Office 
in 1835. Later he moved to Somerville, dying there on July 29, 

Dr. Henry M. Johnson, one of the earliest residents, served 
jury duty while Fayette County was still attached to Shelby 
County on May 7, 1823 (Shelby County Court minutes). He was 
also present at Robert Thorntons house when the first Fayette 
County Court was held. He was the first County Court Clerk, 
the first postmaster of Somerville (1825), opened the first tavern, 
and was the first doctor in Somerville. He died here in 1828. 

William Ramsey was also present at Thornton's house at that 
first meeting of the court. That he lived near Daniel Johnson's 
home on the waters of the North Fork of Wolf River is known 
because he dispatched a letter on August 7, 1825, from the Wolf 
River Post Office in Fayette County (where Johnson was post- 

12 Tennessee County History Series 

master) to his sister Lyda Burgess and her husband Benjamin 
Burgess in Franklin County, AL. 

Joseph Coe, a native of Maryland, was present at the Battle 
of Tohopeka (also called Horseshoe Bend) in 1814 under Gen- 
eral Andrew Jackson. An early Fayette Countain, he built a grist- 
and sawmill on Big Muddy Creek north of Somerville in 1829 
and in 1833 built the brick courthouse in Somerville. He was the 
first person sent by Fayette County to the Tennessee Legislature. 
His son, John Green Coe, was killed in the massacre at Goliad, 
TX, in 1836; another son. Levin Hudson Coe, was a prominent 
lawyer of Shelby County. Joseph Coe died in Fayette County in 

John Walker Jones, a native of Buckingham County, VA, 
where he had married Martha W. Moorman, settled his Cedar 
Grove Plantation in the southeast part of the county, north of 
LaGrange near the Hardeman County line. He reared a large 
family and died in 1879. His plantation and manor house are 
now a part of the vast Ames Plantation. 

James Philemon Holcombe, Jr., a Revolutionary War soldier 
who was born in 1762 in Prince Edward County, VA, came to 
Fayette County in 1829. He settled first in LaGrange near his 
son-in-law, George Hubbard Wyatt. Later Holcombe moved 
northwest of Somerville to live with another son-in-law, Thomas 
Watkins, around what is now the Glade Springs area, where he 
probably died and was buried. He died November 4, 1834, at 
the age of 72. 

Edward Teague and his brother William, Jr, were pioneer 
settlers, having purchased land in Fayette County in 1827. They 
settled in the southern edge of the county. They were the sons 
of William Teague, Sr., whose ancestors migrated from Wilkes 
County, NC, to Kentucky and then to this area. 

Young Montague came from Granville County, NC, in 1826 
and settled in the northwest part of the county. He married three 
times and had eighteen children. His tombstone, showing his 
death date as 1868, still stands on the land he settled. 

Walter Shinault came to Fayette County in 1825 and setded 


a little east of Somerville, where he lived until he died about 

Robert Knox came to Fayette County in 1824. He married 
Catherine Kirk, daughter of Henry Kirk. Knox settled on the 
southern edge of the county, south of where Rossville now 
stands. He reared a large family, died in 1879, and was buried 
in the family cemetery on his land. 

After the county was organized, others mentioned in the 
minutes of the early court sessions were: William Adams, James 
Bickerstaff, Henry Brooks, John Brown, Joseph Choat, Daniel 
Clifft, Samuel Cox, John Culbertson, Thomas M. Culbertson, 
William Davis, Thomas Estell, Lawrence G. Evans, Shadrack 
Gardner, Tobias Grider, Andrew Hatnes, Samuel B. Harper, 
John Howard, John Jarman, Sr., Ludwick Kidd, James Kim- 
brough, Joel Langham, William Metcalf, Hamilton C. Payne, 
John Pratt, Marcus B. Ragan, Nathaniel Ragland, Richard Ram- 
sey, James Ritchie, Moses Ritchie, Jesse Smith, Rubin Smith, 
Amasa Spencer, Hamilton Thornton, Charles Williams, Pleasant 
Word, Samuel Wyatt, and John Yeary. 

The population in 1825 was about 800. By 1830 it had in- 
creased tenfold to 8652; by 1840 it had nearly tripled, the census 
showing 21,501. 

Many settlements grew up, some with names long since for- 
gotten. In addition to presently existing towns, other localities 
with historical significance are Concordia, near Braden and Cal- 
laway; Belmont, near Braden; Forty-five, also one time called 
Rather, between Moscow and LaGrange; Mississippi Junction, 
between Moscow and Rossville; and Milton, near the Hardeman 
County line. Pattersonville, near the former home of Robert 
Thornton between Somerville and LaGrange, had a post office 
from 1898 to 1907; Mary L. Patterson was the first postmistress. 
Yum Yum, north of the county seat, had a post office from 1886 
to 1905 and John H. Garnett was the first postmaster. Walkers 
Station was a name applied to two locations; one at Williston and 
the other near Piperton. Numerous other settlements have 
taken their names from a church in the community, such as Shi- 
loh, Oak Grove, Bethlehem, and New Bethel. Good Springs, also 

14 Tennessee County History Series 

formerly called Egypt, had a post office from 1835 to 1861; 
George J. Walker was the first postmaster. Sardis had a post office 
from 1871 to 1873, with Andrew J. Farris as postmaster. Now, 
however, most of the residents of these communities center their 
activities aroiuid nearby towns. 

A study of the ZIP code directory today will reveal only 1 1 
post offices in Fayette County, many of those formerly estab- 
lished having gone out of existence. In the first decade after the 
county was formed, 17 post offices had been established. Mount 
Comfort, the fifth post office in the county, was opened in 1828 
(John Graham, first postmaster) and closed in 1866. Birch Pond 
had a post office from 1830 to 1845, and Laurel Creek, one from 
1833 to 1858. Arcadia had a post office for two years following 
1834, and Colleton had one from 1837 to 1851. 

Organization and Government 

In 1824 on September 29 the Tennessee General Assembly 
passed an act establishing Fayette County from parts of Shelby 
and Hardeman counties. The name Fayette was chosen to honor 
the Marquis de la Fayette, who in 1824 had returned to the 
United States for the dedication of the Bunker Hill monument. 
He had remained for a triumphal tour which included visits to 
Memphis and Nashville. The admiration of the people for Marie 
Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette, 
was such that his name was chosen for many towns and counties, 
including Fayette County, Tennessee. 

On December 6, 1824, the first county court of Fayette 
County convened at the home of Robert G. Thornton on the 
banks of the North Fork of Wolf River, twelve miles southeast of 
Somerville and seven miles northwest of LaGrange. The justices 
present for that first meeting were Daniel Clifft, Lawrence Ev- 
ans, David Jernigan, Daniel Johnson, Henry M.Johnson, Henry 
Kirk, John T Patterson, William Ramsey, Edmund Tarver, and 
Robert G. Thornton, all of whom held commissions as magis- 
trates from the governor. 

Edmund D. Tarver was chosen chairman; Henry M. John- 


son, clerk; Samuel B. Harper, sheriff ;Jarman Koonce, register; 
David Jernigan, trustee; Henry Brooks, ranger; and William 
Owen, coroner 

In February of 1825 commissioners were appointed by the 
General Assembly to lay off the new county and locate the county 
seat, which was to be named Somerville. This name was chosen 
by the General Assembly to honor Lt. Robert Somerville, who 
had been killed March 27, 1814, while leading a charge against 
the Creek Indians in the Battle of Tohopeka, or Horseshoe 
Bend, in what is now Alabama. Thotigh Lieutenant Somerville 
was not a Fayette Countian, nor did members of his family live 
in the county, the name was decided upon even before the site 
was determined. An act to this effect was passed by the General 
Assembly on October 16, 1824. 

It is likely that Joseph Coe, one of Fayette County's early set- 
tlers, may have suggested that the town be named in honor of 
Lieutenant Somerville. Coe himself was at the Battle of Toho- 
peka and was the first person sent by Fayette County as its rep- 
resentative to the Tennessee legislature. He would have been in 
a position to make this recommendation to honor his comrade- 

The town's name was earlier spelled with two m's, and on cer- 
tain signs even today that spelling may be foimd. However, the 
accepted spelling is Somerville. In 1853 writers to the Memphis 
papers on the controversy over the spelling pointed out that the 
name was spelled by the family with one m. Actually the family 
spelled the name in various ways, such as Somervill, Somervell, 
and Somerville, according to newspapers, records, and 

The commissioners who had been appointed to select the lo- 
cation of the seat of justice reported to the County Court in ses- 
sion at Thornton's house that they had "located the county site 
upon the lands of George Bowers and James Brown, on both 
sides of the meridian line dividing the Tenth and Eleventh Sur- 
veyors districts." These two men, Bowers and Brown, each 
deeded to the county a tract containing 25 acres of land. The 
court then commissioned Daniel Johnson, Henry Kirk, William 

1 6 Tennessee County History Series 

Owen, John T. Patterson, and Hamilton Thornton to lay off the 
land into town lots, sell them at public auction, and with the rev- 
enue erect a temporary courthouse, jail, and other necessary 
public buildings. The sale of lots took place on September 14, 

Ten years later, on December 3, 1835, commissioners were 
appointed to lay off the county in 15 civil districts. When this was 
accomplished, it appeared that organization was complete and 
that the county was permanently established. There were, how- 
ever, at least five attempts during the early years of its history to 
create new counties from a part of Fayette's territory. 

The first attempt at division occurred in 1834 when a group 
of "citizens of the counties of Hardeman and Fayette residing 
principally at LaGrange in Fayette County and vicinity" pre- 
sented a petition to the legislature to form a new county "twelve 
or fifteen miles from the State Line north, running to the county 
line of McNairy east and to the county line of Shelby west." (Pe- 
tition #18-1834) 

This was a period of time when new counties were being cre- 
ated rather frequently. The reasons most often given for desir- 
ing the formation of a new county were distance from the county 
seat and the condition of the roads, which made travel to the 
county seats long and arduous. The 98 men who signed this pe- 
tition gave as an additional reason for their request "that the 
county of Fayette as well as that of Hardeman is now so populous 
that when convened for the purpose of transacting county and 
other business at their respective seats of justice, Somerville and 
Bolivar, they cannot be accommodated with lodging, boarding, 
etc., for themselves or horses." LaGrange was designated to be 
the county seat of this proposed county. There is no record that 
the legislature acted favorably upon this request. 

In 1 84 1 another petition to form a new county was presented 
to the legislature (Petition #5-1841), this one to be created from 
the southwest part of Fayette and the southeast part of Shelby. 
No mention was made of a proposed name for the county. The 
name "Alexander," which appears on the cover sheet of the pe- 
tition, may have been the intended name. The petition was re- 


ferred to the Committee on New Counties in October of 1 84 1 . 
No further action is noted. 

The third attempt at division of the county occurred in 1843 
when a public meeting was held on October 28 at Martins Bridge 
for the purpose of considering the propriety of laying off a new 
county composed of portions of Fayette and Shelby counties. In 
their petition to the legislature, the petitioners carefully re- 
garded the provisions of the state law which prohibits county 
lines from encroaching closer than 12 miles to the county seats 
of existing counties, in this case Somerville and Raleigh. The 
petition bore the signatures of Jehu Ragan, chairman; Allan A. 
Pittman, secretary; and H. Abingdon, James Corbitt, Samuel 
J. Dunn, Thomas R Gwyn, William Harrell, R. W. Hawley, John 
Houston, Daniel E. Jones, Thomas Jones, J. W. Koen, S. B. 
Martin, Thomas Moncrief, James Neely, and Alfred Riggs. They 
further recommended that the new county be called "Martin" in 
honor of Samuel Martin, one of the first settlers of the area. 
When the legislature acted on January 6, 1844, to authorize the 
establishment of this new county, the name given was Hanover 
County. Even though the enabling act was passed by the legis- 
lature, the county never materialized. 

The next attempt to divide the county, the only one that truly 
threatened to become a reality, occurred in the latter part of the 
1860s, when a proposal was made to erect a new county out of 
the part of Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy counties which lay 
between the old Memphis and Charleston Railroad and the Mis- 
sissippi state line. It was to be named Bell County in honor of 
John Bell, the eminent Tennessee statesman. The proposed 
county would have taken a great deal of revenue from the ex- 
isting counties, since the railroad was one of the largest taxpay- 
ers in each county. Fayette towns that would have been included 
in Bell County were LaFayette (Rossville), Moscow, and La- 
Grange. The action was bitterly opposed by Fayette officials, but 
the legislature of 1870 authorized the erection of the new 
county, and on February 22, 1871, an election was held with an 
overwhelming majority of the votes cast being in favor of the 
new county: 1284 for and 295 against. 

1 8 Tennessee County History Series 

Favette County carried an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme 
Court, where on June 8, 1871, Chancellor Fentress upheld a de- 
cision that the new county was not legal. The decision was based 
on the fact that the affirmative votes did not represent two-thirds 
of the voters residing in the area. Another election was set for 
March 1, 1872, but was postponed. No other date was ever set 
for the election, and again Fayette County was spared being 

Perhaps one reason for the failure of Bell County was a pro- 
posal initiated about the same time to erect a county, which 
would be called Nashoba, from the southern part of Shelby 
County and extending into Fayette far enough to encroach upon 
the territory included in Bell County. The proposed Nashoba 
County also resulted in failure. Since that time, no further at- 
tempts to divide the county have been made. 

Four courthouses have served the needs of Fayette County. 
The first meeting of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was 
held at the home of Robert G. Thornton on December 6, 1824. 
The first Circuit Court was also held at Thorntons on April 11, 
1825. But by November 1825, a log structure had been erected 
and the County Court moved its sessions from Thornton's house 
to Somerville. This log house was approximately 20 feet square 
and was located a short distance northeast of the present court- 
house. In an interview carried in the Reporter and Falcon on May 
2, 1888, John R. Hendon, who had come to Fayette County in 
1831, recalled that it was "an old log hut with no floor in it. Stobs 
were driven into the earth upon which rude benches were fas- 
tened." Court minutes reveal that the building had only one win- 
dow at first and two doors. It was so cold in winter that boards 
had to be fastened to the inside walls to chink the cracks. Later 
three more windows were added to let in more light (and prob- 
ably more cold). The Reverend Thomas Neely, a Methodist cir- 
cuit rider, in an interview published in the Reporter and Falcon 
(April 19, 1882) recalled having preached in Somerville when 
the only public building "was a small log house which was used 
not only as a courthouse, but also as a church as well as for all 
other public meetings." 



Fayette County Courthouse, 
built 1876 and burned 1925. 
Courtesy of Anne Crawford 

In 1829 the court proposed to levy a tax for the purpose of 
erecting a new courthouse. On April 12, 1830, a committee was 
appointed to see about this matter. The members of the com- 
mittee were William Davis, Michael Gabbert, William S. Gray, 
and William F. Hodges. The building was erected in 1833. This 
second courthouse, a brick structure 50 feet by 60 feet, was lo- 
cated in the center of the town square. There was a fence around 
it and also a cupola on top which contained a bell. The building 
was heated with wood-burning stoves. Hendon said that this 
structure was built by "old man Coe," referring to Joseph Coe, a 
prominent and influential citizen of the county at that time. 
Chancery Court was first held in this building in 1835. This 
courthouse was in use for a little over 40 years. 

In 1876 a new building was erected of brick and galvanized 
iron painted a stone color. It had a slate roof, stone floor, a large 
tower in front, and two smaller towers in the rear. Goodspeed's 
History of Tennessee Fayette County Supplement (1887) describes 
it as "the most beautiful and best arranged courthouse in West 
Tennessee, if not in the state — city buildings not excepted." 

20 Tennessee County History Series 

Mrs. W. P. Claxton, who lived her entire life in her home 
Frogmore just a block from the courthouse, has left this descrip- 
tion of the third seat of justice as she remembered it: 

The old Fayette County courthouse that burned in 1925 was a 
magnificent structure — three stories tall with three towers. The 
center tower was topped by a statue of Justice holding scales in her 
hand. Just below was a four-sided clock which was regulated to 
keep perfect time. The entrances toward North Main Street and 
South Main Street had tall double doors made of beautifully 
carved walnut. The center of the lobby or hall was entered by two 
or three steps. On the left and right were stairways leading to the 
second floor At the top of the left stairway was the entrance to the 
courtroom with double doors of walnut. The stairway had beau- 
tifully polished rails and spindles ending with larger posts at the 
bottom. It was carpeted with a thick beige carpet which extended 
into the courtroom. The long courtroom had an aisle in the center 
with long benches on either side. The benches were gently ele- 
vated and sloped down to the rails which divided the spectators 
from the participants. The judges' stand stood in the center of the 
far end of the room with witness stands on either side. On the sides 
beyond the witness stands were doors leading into the smaller tow- 
ers by a stairway which also provided an outer entrance to the 
court yard. It was said that there were secret passages leading from 
the courtroom to the lawyers' offices below. There were tall win- 
dows on three sides of the courtroom with inside blinds. In be- 
tween the windows hung paintings of judges who had served the 
county. Judge Flippin's portrait was directly behind the judges' 
stand. Hanging from the vaulted ceilings were beautiful chande- 
liers. The court yard was so wide that passage between it and the 
businesses was a narrow road. There were two cisterns in the 
yard — one on the north and one on the south. They provided 
drinking water for visitors. Enclosing the yard was a beautiful or- 
namental iron fence with gates on four sides which were kept 
closed. Very large trees, many oaks, shaded the velvety green lawn. 
Horses were not allowed on the square and had to be left at one 
of the livery stables. The courthouse lawn was used many times 
for political speakings, band concerts, and church ice cream 

This magnificent building, the pride of the county, which 


had been constructed at a cost of $75,000, was destroyed by fire 
on February 10, 1925. Mrs. Bernice Cargill, an active member 
of the Fayette County Historical Society, has done extensive re- 
search on the destructive fire and the subsequent building of the 
present courthouse. The following description is the result of 
her research. 

Fire broke out at 3:00 p.m. in the millinery room of Lipsky's 
Department Store on the southwest corner of the square, quickly 
destroying the entire building. Strong winds from the south 
soon whipped the fire into the Somerville Bank and Trust Com- 
pany building, which at that time was located next to Lipsky's. 
Suddenly the wind changed from south to west, blowing severe 
heat against the courthouse. Some thought that the pigeon nests 
in the dome caught fire first. Although built of brick and roofed 
with metal, the building could not withstand the awful heat. It 
caught fire through and under the metal roof where it was im- 
possible to reach with water Slowly the fire spread throughout 
the tower, attic, and the second floor, continuing until nothing 
was left standing but the blackened walls. County officers had 
time to save nearly all of the official records. But for the efforts 
of the volunteer fire fighters, white and black, the entire town 
could have burned. 

The County Court moved quickly to replace the building as 
soon and as economically as possible. They wanted a quality 
building most of all — one that would last. To attain this goal, they 
selected honest men who had a reputation for good common 
sense and business acumen to serve on the building committee. 
Those appointed to the committee were: County Court Chair- 
man W. G. Shelton, William M. Mayo, and Charles A. Stainback, 
all of Somerville; Dr Louis McAuley of Oakland; Walter S. Piper 
of Piperton; William A. Weber of Hickory Withe; and Peter R. 
Beasley of LaGrange. Six weeks after the fire, this group, guided 
by the architect George Mahan, Jr, had completed the design 
and had made most of the hard decisions. 

They had as funds $105,000 from the sale of bonds plus 
$30,000 insurance on the old building. When the bids were 
opened, the plans were modified (for one thing, columns on the 

22 Tennessee County History Series 

east side were deleted) so as to stay within the available funds. 
Contracts were let in June of 1925. The contract for construction 
was awarded to Forcum and James Lumber Company of Obion, 
Tennessee, for $106,000, the lowest of fourteen bids received. 
Fowler Electric Company of Memphis got the electrical contract 
for $ 1685. Buff colored face brick was purchased from Fant and 
Anderson of Memphis at $37 per thousand. The heating and 
plumbing contract went to a local businessman, C. A. Oliver, for 

During construction court was held in the Eagle Hotel and 
Lipsky s Opera House, both on the east side of the square. The 
cornerstone was laid in October of 1925, and the structure was 
completed in 1926. The top of the building was covered with 
copper, and at the top of the dome was placed a clock of the same 
make as the one in the old courthouse. This clock has glass dials 
with electric lights behind them for illumination at night. 

The main entrance to the present courthouse is on the south 
side, with less elaborate entrances on north and east. Hallways 
run the full length and width of the first floor In the center there 
is a rotunda bordered with three-foot high marble wainscoting. 
The stairs are also of marble. The doors were originally of wood 
but are now metal with glass. 

A major renovation of the building was done in 1984-1985, 
at a cost of $250,000. Most of the funds were provided by the 
federal "jobs bill" of 1983, although considerable local funds 
were also used. The architectural firm of Grace and Associates 
of Bartlett supervised the work. The general contractor was Van- 
derhayden Construction Company of Whiteville, Tennessee. 

One of the major objectives of the renovation was to high- 
light some of the less obvious, but nonetheless unique, architec- 
tural features of the building. This included cleaning and 
restoring to its original lustre the woodwork throughout, most 
of which is yellow poplar alternating color patterns to accent the 
extensive ceiling trim. Regal colors were used to restore the long 
forgotten motifs above the doors in the first floor rotunda. In 
addition, new concrete walks were built around the courthouse. 
A wheelchair ramp was constructed at the north entrance. Solid 


oak benches replaced the laminated wooden benches which had 
seated courtroom audiences since 1926. 

A highlight of the courthouse lawn is the 14-foot spire of 
Georgian granite placed on November 1 1, 1984, to serve as a 
perpetual monument to the memory of all Fayette County 

Today a polished brass plaque on the first floor denotes that 
the Fayette County Courthouse building is on the National Reg- 
ister of Historic Places. This designation was achieved in 1982 
largely through the efforts of Mrs. Harrison Crawford of Wil- 
liston. It is included as a part of the larger Somerville Historic 

The log jail which was built in 1825 was used as a place of 
incarceration until 1 838 when a substantial brick jail was erected. 
The latter building stood until 1873, when a two-story brick 
building was constructed at a cost of $20,000. In 1886 it was set 
on fire by a black prisoner and was completely destroyed. The 
building that replaced it served until 1958, when the present jail 
was erected on a lot about two blocks east of the courthouse on 
Highway 64. 

The John S. Wilder Youth Development Center is located 
three miles north of Somerville on Highway 59. This facility is 
under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Department of Correc- 
tion, Youth Services Division. Opened in September of 1971 as 
the Tennessee Youth Development Center, this institution was 
renamed in honor of the lieutenant-governor by act of the 1975 
General Assembly. It receives delinquent boys, aged 1 6 years and 
under, committed from the juvenile courts of Tennessee. Lo- 
cated on 176 acres of gently rolling land, the facility's physical 
plant is a model among similar institutions in the United States. 
There are 15 buildings, contemporary in design. They include 
two dormitory complexes, self-contained school, gymnasium, 
chapel, cafeteria, and administrative offices. The primary pro- 
gram emphasis at WYDC is on rehabilitation and treatment 
rather than punishment. The director is Seth Garrington, under 
whose guidance the institution has maintained a record of ser- 
vice to youth, state, and community since its beginning in 1971. 

24 Tennessee County Histoty Series 

The county business was formerly conducted by the County 
Court, which was composed of 37 magistrates (Justices of the 
Peace). There were two from each civil district and one from 
each incorporated town. The presiding officer was the County 
Court Chairman, elected from that body by the members of the 
court. T V. Luck, Sr.; H. M. Rhea, Sn; and John C. Rice, III, 
each served several terms as chairman. 

In accordance with a state constitutional amendment known 
as the local government article, a reorganization of the county 
court system was effected in 1978 whereby the governing body 
is composed of 19 county commissioners. The chief business 
agent is the county executive, who is elected by popular vote for 
a term of four years. The first county executive was William 
David Smith, who was elected for a second term in 1982. T W. 
Tomlin has served as county attorney since August 19, 1947. 


Roads were among the first needs of settlers. Under a leg- 
islative act of 1804, counties were authorized to build roads and 
to require every able-bodied man between the ages of 18 and 50 
to work on the roads or to hire a substitute to work in his place. 
In Fayette County, the court appointed overseers for the various 
roads and named individuals who were assigned to work under 
the overseer on roads in their neighborhoods. 

Since it was necessary for the settlers to get to the courthouse 
to record deeds, serve on juries, and attend to other legal busi- 
ness, it was natural that the first roads led to the seat of govern- 
ment in the county. The first court activity that took place in 
Fayette County was at old Pattersonville on the North Fork of 
Wolf River where before 1822 Robert G. Thornton had begun 
a settlement. This fact is documented by Shelby County Court 
minutes of May 5, 1822: "A petition was presented to establish 
a road from Memphis to Thornton's settlement on Wolf River, 
thence to Fowlers Ferry on the Big Hatchie River" Fowler's 
Ferry was in what is now Hardeman County, about 16 miles 


southeast of Bolivar; but Hardeman, like Fayette, had not then 
been organized. 

Due to further court deliberation on this matter, Shelby 
County's plans to put through this road were cancelled, and it 
was 1825 before the road was actually cut out. In the meantime, 
the county of Fayette had been organized. 

The first mention of a road in the minutes of Fayette County 
was in February 1825, and reads: "Ordered that James Kim- 
brough, William Owen, Flamilton Thornton, Robert Cotton, 
Marcus B. Ragan, Shadrack Gardner, John Jarman, Sr, Nathan- 
iel Ragland, and David Jernigan view and mark a road begin- 
ning at the county line between this and Hardeman at a point 
west of Esquire Ragan's running west by way of Head's or Ram- 
say's Ferry to intersect the road from Memphis at the Shelby 
County line." The site of Somerville was selected as the county 
seat in March of 1825 and the next road planned was for that 
area. In the court minutes for May of 1825, Miles Beauford, 
Amos David, James Douglas, Andrew Hayns, Thos. Hudson, 
Henry M.Johnson, Hamilton C. Payne, and Jesse Simpson were 
appointed to mark out a road "beginning at some point in the 
line between Hardeman and Fayette in a direction from Som- 
erville to Hatchy [now Bolivar] running westward the nearest 
and best way to Somerville and thence nearest and best way to 
Shelby County the east boundary, in a direction to Memphis." 

Shortly after 1825 roads went out from Somerville in several 
directions. In July 1827 a report was made by the court on roads 
that were to be kept and those that should be discontinued. 
Those to be kept were the five roads leading out of Somerville 
to Memphis, to Covington, to Estanaula, to Daniel Johnson's (old 
Pattersonville), and to Bolivar Also to be kept were the roads 
from Somerville to Mitchell's Ferry in the southwest part of the 
county, from Bolivar to Memphis crossing Wolf River at Head's 
Ferry, and from Head's Ferry up the state line. The report stated, 
"The roads in the direction from Bolivar to Memphis crossing 
Wolf River at Head's Ferry and the road from Head's Ferry up 
the State Line we do believe to be of public utility and ought to 

26 Tennessee County History Series 

be kept in repair, the balance to be of little importance at this 

There were three classes of roads. The first class were stage 
roads, 20 feet wide if possible; second class were wagon roads, 
12 feet wide; third class roads were those wide enough for horse- 
back riders, little more than trails or traces. J. J. Winchester says 
in Reminiscences, "No road leading into or out of Memphis was 
more than three feet wide until the Post Road was established 
out of Somerville in 1829." 

One of the best known roads from Raleigh, the then county 
seat of Shelby County, into Fayette County was the Raleigh- 
LaGrange Road, which was in existence in 1836. It entered Fay- 
ette just a little north of Wolf River, then turned northeast for 
about three miles, running through the plantation of William 
Littlejohn; from here the road ran due east for about four miles, 
passing Colonel James Heasletts plantation, from whence it con- 
tinued on due east another three miles to Egypt. This was a stage 
route. From Egypt the road went east and northeast crossing the 
North Fork of Wolf River and continuing on to Daniel Johnsons, 
near Robert Thorntons settlement. From Johnsons, it turned 
directly southeast to LaGrange along the route of the present 
Somerville-LaGrange road. Later, a better or shorter route was 
desired. On July 3, 1843, the following item was recorded in the 
minutes of the Fayette County Court: "Jury appointed to change 
Raleigh Road to run nearest and best way from Egypt to La- 
Grange, crossing at Edwards Mill and intersecting road from 

Another road from Raleigh led to Macon, coming through 
Fisherville into Fayette County. Other roads often mentioned in 
court minutes were the Hays Bridge Road and Martins Bridge 

In the late 1830s and 1840s, turnpike companies were char- 
tered by the legislature to build short roads. These companies 
surveyed and marked the routes, cleared the trees and stumps, 
and built bridges. They were paid for their work by charging 
tolls. Legislative acts of 1837-1838 name those appointed as 
commissioners to open books for stock subscriptions to the 


Memphis, Somerville, and Bolivar Turnpike Company. The 
road was to be at least 25 feet wide, well drained, and graded. 
Fayette Countians appointed as commissioners were John H. 
Ball, John Blackwell, John C. Cooper, Peter Culp, A.J. Henry, 
William A.Jones, Matthew Rhea, and William D. Wilkinson. 

Another group of commissioners from Madison, Haywood, 
and Fayette counties was appointed to sell stock in a company 
to construct a turnpike from Jackson to Somerville by way of 
Denmark in Madison County. Those from Fayette County on 
this commission were Thomas Dodson, Willie Shane, and James 

Still another act of 1837-1838 appointed John H. Ball, John 
Cobb, John C. Cooper, Hiram Faine, Durant Hatch, Andrew J. 
Henry, Josiah Higgason, Albert G. Hunter, Joseph B. Littlejohn, 
Henderson Owen, William Reeves, James F. Ruffin, Edmund S. 
Tappan, Simon H. Walker, Edwin Watkins, and Edwin Whit- 
more, all residents of Fayette County, to open books and raise 
stock up to $25,000 to build a sanded or graded road and turn- 
pike from Belmont to Somerville. The road could be continued 
to Randolph in Tipton County by way of Concordia. When one- 
third of the road was completed, a tollgate could be opened at 
an appropriate spot. 

The 1843—1844 legislature passed a number of acts relating 
to Fayette County roads. One act incorporated John Ingraham 
and Andrew Turner as the "Jackson, Somerville, and Memphis 
Turnpike Company" to construct a turnpike and ferry across the 
Hatchie River near Atwood on the road leading to Memphis. 
The legislature also named John H. Ball, L. J. Coe, John C. 
Cooper, B. Douglass, William Jones, James Ruffin, H. B. S. Wil- 
liams, and L. R Williamson of Fayette County plus eleven men 
from Shelby as commissioners to open books and sell stock to 
build a turnpike from Memphis to Somerville. The statute also 
named J. W Burton, E. T. Collins, E. W. Harris, W B. Hamblin, 
J.I. Potts, and Thomas Winston of Fayette County and eight 
men from Shelby as commissioners for a turnpike road from 
Memphis to LaGrange by way of Germantown. 

A big event in 1851 was the completion of four miles of plank 

28 Tennessee County Histoy Series 

on the Memphis-Somerville Plank Road over which mail was 
brought from Jackson and Nashville. This was done by a toll 
companv. On December 3, 1851, a news item in a Memphis pa- 
per reported, "John Trigg of LaGrange has sent a wagon to 
Memphis drawn by six horses and containing 15 bales of cotton. 
But for the facilities provided by the new plank road, at least two 
trips would have been required to bring such a load to market. 
Our planters and merchants alike should reflect on the practical 
and economic advantages of good roads." 

Parts of some of the old routes are still in existence. However, 
with the coming of the automobile, there was increased need for 
roads that could be used in all seasons. New routes were laid out, 
levees were constructed, bridges built, and hard surface applied. 
The old stage road through Somerville became U.S. Highway 
64; the old State Line Road through LaGrange, Moscow, and 
Rossville became State Route 57; State Route 76 replaced the old 
Brownsville Road; and a part of the Covington Road was re- 
placed by State Route 79. 

Another mode of transportation during the early days of the 
county was by water. On March 16, 1844, the following report 
appeared in a Memphis newspaper: 

"The keelboat Forlorn Hope, Commodore Briggs at the helm, ar- 
rived in Memphis last night with 83 bales of cotton from Moscow, 
a little town on the Wolf River near LaGrange, Tenn. This is the 
first trip to Memphis by a water craft from so far up the Wolf. 
Briggs thinks navigation of the Wolf to Moscow would be entirely 
feasible with only a small appropriation by Shelby and Fayette 
counties to clear the little river of snags. During the winter when 
roads are impassable this would be a great convenience to planters 
in getting their cotton to market." 

Apparently the needed financial support for such a venture 
was not forthcoming. Traffic by water did not become a major 
means of transportation. Perhaps the increased interest in the 
construction of a raillroad through this area offered a better so- 
lution for year-round transportation. 

Cotton was the basis of the economy in the early days of the 
settlement of the county. In order to get their cotton to market, 


the planters were desirous of a better means of transportation 
than that afforded by the rivers, which were navigable only a 
part of the year, and the wagon roads which were impassable in 

In the 1830s steps were taken to bring railroad facilities to 
the county, resulting in the incorporation on December 4, 1835, 
of the LaGrange and Memphis Railroad. This was the first rail- 
road chartered in the state of Tennessee. 

To encourage internal improvements, the Tennessee Legis- 
lature enacted a law in 1836 by which the state would provide 
one-third of the capital to any stock company that would sub- 
scribe two-thirds of the total capital. Fayette Countians imme- 
diately took advantage of this offer, and on April 4, 1836, began 
selling stock in the proposed LaGrange and Memphis Railroad. 
The charter provided for a lateral line from Moscow to 

On June 23, 1836, the state's portion of $125,000 was made 
available, this being the first financial aid given by the state to a 
railroad. The stockholders met in LaGrange and elected a board 
of directors, most of whom were Fayette Countians. Eastin Mor- 
ris was elected president; Epps Moody was named chairman of 
the board. On January 2, 1837, ground-breaking ceremonies 
were held for the LaGrange depot. 

Construction materials were brought by boat to Memphis, 
and the building of the railroad began. This auspicious begin- 
ning of the railroad era in Tennessee was short-lived, however, 
for only about six miles of track had been laid when construction 
was stopped. Several reasons have been given for this interrup- 
tion of progress. 

On June 28, 1852, the states interest in the LaGrange and 
Memphis Railroad was transferred to the Memphis and Charles- 
ton Railroad, which took over the right-of-way of the former 
company and completed the building of the tracts, including the 
lateral branch from Moscow to Somerville. This was the first rail- 
road line into the county seat. 

On March 8, 1854, the Memphis Appeal announced: "The 
Somerville Branch of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad will 

30 Tennessee County History Series 

run daily as follows: leave Moscow at 8:30 p.m., connecting at 
Somerville with a tri-weekly line of stage coaches to Brownsville." 
The following day this notice appeared: 

Memphis and Charleston Railroad: Passenger trains now leave 
Memphis daily at 7 a.m. and arrive at La Grange at 10 a.m. The 
LaFayette train will connect with L. Sims 8c Brothers' daily line of 
four-horse post coaches for Holly Springs, Jacinto, Tuscumbia, 
and Decatur Passengers leaving Memphis at 7 will arrive in De- 
catur at 2 V2 P.M. the next day, thence, by steamboats on the Ten- 
nessee River daily to Chattanooga. 

In 1898 the Southern Railway Company purchased all the 
properties of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. 

The Somerville Branch operated a train that was unique in 
the annals of railroad history. The official name of the passenger 
train was "Somerville Accommodation," but up and down the 
tracks it was known as "Mike Brady" or simply just "Mike." Mike 
was the engineer, perhaps the only engineer to have his name 
emblazoned on his locomotive in bright gold letters. George 
Greer Higgins, the conductor, was always called Cap'n Higgins. 
Others who made up the crew were Bond, the flagman; Jaybird, 
the brakeman; and Stone, the baggage man. 

The train truly lived up to the name of "accommodation. "It 
was a commuter train, and the regular stops between Somerville 
and Memphis numbered over 20. If you couldn't quite make it 
to the station on time, you just needed to get within sight of the 
train and Mike would see you and wait, stopping anywhere. The 
train left Somerville about 5:45 a.m., arriving in Moscow at 6:25 
and reaching Memphis at 8:00. The return trip left Memphis 
about 6 P.M. Merchants and farmers from the county frequently 
rode "Mike" into the city to transact business. Daily commuters 
included college students going to West Tennessee State Teach- 
ers College at "Normal," as well as businessmen who worked in 
the city. It was a sad day in Fayette County when the Southern 
Railway suspended service on the Somerville Branch. On Oc- 
tober 1, 1929, the last run of "Mike" was made. Southern filed 


an application for abandonment on September 4, 1931, and per- 
mission to scrap the branch was granted in 1932. The tracks 
were soon removed, thus ending a colorful story of railroad 

In the towns along the lines, the railroads provided social 
activity as well as transportation. "Meeting the train" was a daily 
activity, morning and afternoon, whether or not anyone was ex- 
pected. After the morning train ran, the people who had gath- 
ered at the depot to watch that event would then follow the mail 
cart across the town square to the post office and wait for the 
mail to be put into the boxes. The aroma of fresh bread wafted 
on the air as the cartons of bread were transferred from the train 
to the local stores. Practically everything that came into the towns 
was shipped by rail during the latter part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury and the first half of the twentieth. 

In the fall, the platform around the depot was filled with 
bales of cotton to be shipped; the town square surrounding the 
depot held the overflow. Young boys and girls spent many happy 
hours jumping from bale to bale and playing hide-and-seek or 
catch among the bales stored there. 

In the northwest section of the county, rail service was estab- 
lished at about the same time as that on the southern edge. On 
December 5, 1853, the Memphis to Louisville Airline Railroad 
Company was chartered. Work was begun in August of 1 854 and 
was completed in 1861. It formed a connection with the Louis- 
ville and Nashville Railroad at Bowling Green. This line runs 
through the towns of Braden and Gallaway. 

The second rail line to be built into Somerville was the Ten- 
nessee Midland, later taken over by the Nashville, Chattanooga, 
and St. Louis Railroad. The Tennessee Midland was chartered 
in 1886, and by 1888 tracks had been completed through Oak- 
land, Somerville, and Laconia. After running into financial dif- 
ficulty, the line was purchased by the L&rN Railway Company, 
which leased the tracks of the Tennessee Midland to the N.C. 8c 
St.L., which merged with the L&N in 1957. On January 11, 


Tennessee County History Series 

Cotton ready to be shipped by rail from Moscow town square about 

1966, the L&N applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission 
for permission to abandon the line. In 1968 the tracks were re- 
moved, leaving the county seat without a rail line. 

As travel by air became more common throughout the coun- 
try, interest in a county airport developed. There were privately 
owned landing strips in Somerville, Longtown, Williston, and 
Moscow, but these did not meet the needs of expanding air 
travel. In July of 1974 construction was begun on Fayette 
County Airport, the first regulation airport in the county. The 
site is about five miles from Somerville on the Macon Road. The 
Federal Aviation Administration made a grant of $651,225 for 
the project, which was 75% of the total cost. The state and county 
shared the remaining 25%. The airport has a 3500-foot lighted 
asphalt runway. Bailey Aeronautics is based at the airport for 
inspection and repairs on small aircraft. 



The fertility of the soil was one of the features that attracted 
people to this area. Most of the settlers were farmers, and ag- 
riculture has remained a major factor in the economy of this 
rural county. In 1978 the gross income from agriculture was 
$47,000,000, the second highest among the counties of the state. 
In 1982 Fayette County ranked third in Tennessee in the pro- 
duction of cotton, eighth in soybean production, and eleventh 
in wheat. Much corn is also grown, as well as a variety of other 

Many farms have remained in the same families since orig- 
inally settled in the early 1800s. During the celebration of our 
country's bicentennial in 1976, an effort was made to identify 
farms across the state which had been cultivated by members of 
the same family for a hundred years or more. Fayette County 
had ten such "Centennial Farms," for which the owners received 
plaques. In 1986, ten additional farms were documented as Cen- 
tury Farms. 

One of the first of these Fayette County farms to be estab- 
lished is the Reid Farm, in the New Bethel area north of Ross- 
ville. It is part of the farm settled by Nathan Blain and his wife 
Sarah Pleasants in 1826. As was typical of most of the farms in 
this area at that time, they produced cotton, corn, and sorghum, 
and raised cattle and hogs. The farm today is owned by Lillian 
Farley Reid, great-great-granddaughter of the original owners, 
and produces soybeans, cotton, and cattle. 

Two more farms are in this same vicinity. Farley Place, es- 
tablished in 1885 by John B. and Mary Esther Hamner Farley, 
is presently owned by their daughter-in-law, Annie Belle Farley. 
This land also produces soybeans and cotton. Four miles north 
of Rossville is the Pulliam Farm. The original owners, David K. 
and Lucy Wright Pulliam, settled there in 1849. The present 
owner is R. H. Pulliam, Jr, who raises cotton, corn, and soybeans 
on the land his grandfather settled. 

Sylvan Ridge Farm, owned by the Rhea V. Taylor, Jr, estate, 
was established in 1830 by Edmund and Elizabeth Venable Tay- 

34 Tennessee County History Series 

lor. On their original 591 acres of land nine miles northeast of 
Somerville they raised corn, cotton, and wheat, and herds of cat- 
tle, hogs, and sheep. The farm is unusual in that it has intact 
three antebellum buildings — two homes. Sylvan Ridge (1832) 
and Sylvester (1830) and a brick church erected in 1847. The 
farm manager is Rhea V. Taylor IV, great-great-great-grandson 
of the founder. 

The Armour Farm, six miles northeast of Somerville, had its 
origin in the 176 acres acquired by William H. and Isabella Ar- 
mour in 1836. Ownership passed to their great-great-grand- 
children in 1962. Presently it produces soybeans and cotton 
under the management of Harris A. Armour III. 

Petty Farm, owned by Kathryn Rogers Petty and her son 
Royce Petty, was established in 1836 by her great-grandparents, 
Robert R. and Martha Fraser Rogers. In 1860, with the help of 
22 slaves, they produced on their 440-acre farm 600 bushels of 
corn and 69 bales of cotton. Cotton is still the major product of 
the farm. 

The farm owned by the Mattie Watkins Fowler estate had its 
beginning when her great-grandparents, John and Mary Bell 
Burtis, acquired 400 acres of land in 1843. Additional acreage 
was added later On this farm one of the early mills of the county, 
the well-known Salmons Mill (sometimes called Solomons Mill), 
ground corn for many years. 

The Havercamp Farm, owned by Harmon Havercamp and 
Marie Havercamp Cash, dates from 1845 when their great- 
grandfather, William Montgomery, purchased 188 acres seven 
miles southeast of Somerville. Today soybeans are cultivated on 
the farm which now comprises 625 acres. 

Dr. Richard H. Harvey, a physician, purchased land about 
eight miles north of Somerville in 1853. That original purchase 
is the nucleus for three separate farms today, owned by three 
grandsons of Dr Harvey. The farms are Estanaula Oaks, owned 
by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harvey; Hilltop Farm, owned by Mr 
and Mrs. William Harvey; and Harvey Hill Farm, owned by 
Alexander H. Harvey. Principal crops are cotton and soybeans. 

Boswell Farm, 1 1 miles northeast of Somerville, is presently 


owned by two brothers, Carter and Frank Boswell. They are the 
great-grandsons of Dr. William J. and Catherine Wirt Cannon, 
who purchased the first acreage in 1 876. They added to the orig- 
inal purchase until they owned 2200 acres on which they built 
their beautiful plantation manor house, Hatchie Hall. 

Another of the Century Farms is the Yancey Place, owned by 
the grandchildren of Horatio Elderbury Emerson and his wife 
Gusty Ann Clayton. This farm, seven miles northwest of Som- 
erville, was established by the Emersons in 1885. It produces 
cattle, corn, and cotton. 

In the vicinity of Braden is the farm known as Wiggins Place. 
It was settled in 1 859 by James R. and Sally Wiggins. The current 
owner is James Harvey Shelton, great-great-grandson of the 
original owners. 

In the southern part of the county, two miles west of Moscow 
along the tracks of the old Memphis and Charleston Railroad, 
lies the tract of land on which Charles B. and Margaret Brame 
settled sometime prior to 1854. Known today as the Hester 
Farm, the present owners, James E. and George S. Hester, are 
great-great-grandsons of the Brames. Zoysia sod is produced on 
this farm. 

Nearby is the Teague Farm, three miles west of Moscow on 
Highway 57. The original owners, Carroll M. and Nancy Tea- 
gue, acquired their farm in 1870. It is presently owned by their 
great-granddaughter Homazelle Teague Ashford. 

In the same vicinity is the Walter Burch farm, which was set- 
tled in 1882 by John and Rebecca Ann Wade. Cotton, soybeans, 
and cattle are produced on this farm by the present owners, Wal- 
ter and Ena Wade Burch. She is the granddaughter of the orig- 
inal owners. 

To complete the list of Century Farms is the Crawford Farm 
situated in the vicinity of Williston. Owned by Harrison Craw- 
ford, it had its origin in the purchase of land in 1 849 by his great- 
grandparents. Job and Sarah Garrison Walker In addition to 
producing the usual crops of cotton, corn, wheat, and oats, the 
Walkers briefly engaged in the silk industry which was being in- 


Tennessee County History Series 

Harvesting the cotton crop about 1950, before the day of the mechani- 
cal picker 

troduced into Tennessee. The Crawford Farm today produces 
cotton, soybeans, and milo. 

Farming practices have undergone many changes during the 
years. The one-horse plow has given over to mechanization, just 
as home gardens, the family milk cow, and the raising of pigs 
and poultry for home consumption have been replaced by trips 
to the supermarket. 

The first mechanical cotton picker in the county was deliv- 
ered to William B. Cowan of LaGrange on November 3, 1947. 
Since that time, the picture of field hands pulling long sacks of 
cotton has been a thing of the past. Cotton and corn were the 
chief crops in the early days, remaining so until the 1970s when 
they were surpassed by the production of soybeans. 

Prior to the Civil War some of the land was worked by slave 
labor, especially on the large cotton plantations. There were, 
however, numerous small farms worked by the owners. Follow- 
ing the war, many sharecroppers and tenant farmers appeared. 


Between 1880 and 1890 there was a 50% increase in the number 
of sharecroppers and the number of cash tenants doubled, while 
ownership remained about the same. In 1879 the average value 
of land and buildings per farm was $963, and the average value 
of an acre of land was |8.82. 

During the past hundred years, a change in the number and 
size of farms has occurred. This was especially evident in the 
years following the Great Depression. In 1930, 83.3% of all 
farms in the county were tenant farms. The number of cash ten- 
ants decreased and the number of sharecroppers increased dur- 
ing the Depression. The agricultural census of 1930 indicated 
that Fayette County had 5786 farms, with 336,437 acres in farm- 
land, the average size of a farm being a little over 58 acres. The 
statistics for 1978 reveal an enormous change in the number and 
size of farms, but with approximately the same total acreage: 835 
farms; total acreage 336,865; average acres per farm, 403. 

As the size of the farms was undergoing a change, so was the 
type of product being grown. In 1935 corn was planted to 63,670 
acres and cotton to 60,138. In 1978 only 11,740 acres were 
planted to corn and 26,411 to cotton, while 109,624 were 
planted to soybeans. 

Strawberries have been produced commercially for a num- 
ber of years. Sweet potatoes have also been a profitable crop. 
The opening of a storage plant for frozen foods in Rossville in 
1969 influenced many growers to produce vegetables and fruit 
for the market. 

During the decade of the 1980s, a number of farmers and 
landowners overextended their credit in the purchase of heavy 
equipment and farm machinery. A below-average yield and low 
prices for the products combined to make it impossible for some 
farmers to meet their payments. As a consequence they were 
forced into bankruptcy, and many had to watch their land and 
equipment sold at auction. Some left farming altogether; others 
tried to recoup and start over. , 

New types of farming appeared during this period. A num- 
ber of producers of hydroponic tomatoes have found that a prof- 
itable venture. There are now three large floriculture growers 


Tennessee County History Series 

Hog killing time in Fayette County around 1920. 

in the county. The proximity of the Memphis retail distributors 
affords a ready market for these wholesalers. Southeast Grow- 
ers, with 100,000 feet of greenhouse space and a 235-acre 
spread near Oakland, is the largest wholesale greenhouse op- 
eration in the Mid-South. Another industry introduced into the 
county in recent years is the growing and marketing of Christ- 
mas trees. 

The largest livestock producing enterprise is poultry. Egg 
production makes a sizable contribution to the economy of the 
county. In fact, Fayette County is the "egg capital" of Tennessee, 
and an annual festival in October pays homage to the egg in- 
dustry. Poultry and poultry products accounted for an income 
of over $ 1 5,000,000 in 1978. Egg production as a major industry 
began in 1961, when M&H Farms built a processing plant on 57 
acres in Oakland. At the beginning, 408,000 eggs were proc- 
essed weekly. In 1987 Fayette County had two major processing 
plants: Sunny Fresh at Oakland, and Rus-Dun at Piperton. 
These two plants and independent contractors produced more 
than 900,000 eggs daily. 

Beef cattle, dairy cattle, and swine rank high in livestock pro- 


duction. Fayette County has produced some of the best Angus 
and Hereford cattle in the state. The Ames Plantation in the 
southeastern part of the cotuity has a national reputation for the 
quality of its Angus cattle. A purebred Angus herd was estab- 
lished there in 1913 and is the oldest continuous purebred herd 
of Angus in the state. Show cattle raised by Hobart Ames won 
blue ribbons all across the United States. In the dairy industry, 
most producers have switched their herds from Jersey and 
Guernsey to Holstein. In 1978 livestock and livestock products 
yielded over $9,000,000. 


The Agricultural Extension Service, a cooperative program 
between Fayette County, the University of Tennessee, and the 
United States Department of Agriculture, is of great assistance 
to the farmers of the county. This program was signed into law 
by President Woodrow Wilson on May 18, 1914. 

Prior to that time, C. H. Denson worked in Fayette County 
under the Farmers Cooperative Demonstration Program from 
January 1, 1913, until February 1, 1914. He was succeeded by 
J. W. Moffatt, who was serving when the Agricultural Extension 
Service was inaugurated. Other Fayette County agents have 
been W. A. Owens, A. A. Pryor, S. P. Dent, C. O. Woody, E. S. 
Permenter, and Everett Carrell. 

In addition to the Extension Agents, the program also pro- 
vided for Home Demonstration Agents who worked primarily 
with the women of the farms. They also worked with children 
through the 4-H clubs formed in schools throughout the county. 
Miss Elise Catron (who later became Mrs. C. B. Piper) was ap- 
pointed the first Home Agent on April 1, 1917. Other Home 
Agents have been Annie Brasfield, Mildred Jacocks, Gertrude 
Officer, Marietta McNeely, Laura E. Smith, Mary V. Archibald, 
Gladys McMinn, Emma Jean Kirk, Joan Forrester, Martha C. 
Duck, Virginia Flanagan, and Carrie May Jones. 

The present staff consists of Jamie H. Jenkins, Extension 
Agent and Leader; Obie Jarmon and Bessie Jones, Extension 


Tennessee County History Series 

«U^ rr^fw^'*-.'*^'* 

Hauling cotton to market around 
Agent, and Buck Latta. 

1920 with C. O. Woody, County 

Agents; and Virginia Ann Walker and Brian Signaigo, Assistant 
Extension Agents. 

Records in the Extension Service office covering the years 
since the early 1920s show major efforts have been directed to- 
ward diversification of crops and livestock, and toward increas- 
ing yields by conservation, rotation, and the use of improved 
agricultural practices. 

Records and reports of the Home Agents reflect the fact that 
a major problem through the years has been low family income. 
The agents have tried to help families overcome this problem by 
providing information for better living on a limited income. 
Early reports reveal that the home agent left her office by horse 
and buggy on Monday and did not return until Saturday night. 
Lodging and meals were provided by those she served while 
doing her work in the county. 

The work today is organized under four project areas — ag- 


Grady Carpenter and sons Tom 
and Joe, winners of the 1950 Plant 
to Prosper award. 

riculture, home economics, 4-H and youth, and community 
resource development. The objective continues to be improve- 
ment in the standard of living in the county. 

The Fayette County Farm Bureau, organized in 1924, also 
helps farmers in production and marketing. It now boasts 1 100 
members. William B. Cowan has served as president since 1947 
and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee 
Farm Bureau Federation. 

The Farm Bureau Women, an auxiliary of the Farm Bureau, 
is active in the county. The first chairman was Mrs. Sam Dunn 
of Piperton. In 1950 the chairman was Mrs. Grady Carpenter 
of Moscow, whose family that year was the winner of the state- 
wide "Plant to Prosper"contest. Others who have served as chair- 
man of this group are Mrs. Paul Rogers, Mrs. James Russell, 
Mrs. A. A. Hodges, Mrs. Harold Pattat, and Mrs. Lewis Wilson. 

Erosion has long been a problem to area farmers. Most of 
the land is covered with loess, ranging from a depth of 6 feet in 
the eastern part to about 12 feet in the western. Underlying sedi- 
ments are exposed on many slopes. Local farmers have recog- 
nized the highly erosionai quality of the soil for over 50 years, 

42 Tennessee County History Series 

but only recently has it become a national concern. The Fayette 
County Erosion Control Association aided farmers in the 1930s 
and 1940s throtigh the Extension Service and the AAA pro- 
grams. The directors of the association were Hamblette Cocke, 
Richard Ozier, M. M. Pierce, Rhea V. Taylor, and C. O. Woody. 

The dominant organization for conservation is the Fayette 
Comity Soil Conservation District, stressing resource manage- 
ment for farmers and landowners. The district, which provides 
technical assistance from the Soil Conservation Service, is a sub- 
division of state government. It is governed by a board of five 
supervisors, three elected by landowners, two appointed by the 
state. The local district, organized by a referendum of landown- 
ers on September 13, 1950, has sponsored many important proj- 
ects. It obtained two pilot watershed projects in the mid '50s 
when only 50 such projects were authorized nationwide. The 
Wolf River Watershed, a citizen group organized and led by Jun- 
ius L. Crossett, local banker and civic leader of Moscow, sup- 
ported these endeavors. Together the Wolf River Watershed and 
the SCD worked on projects promoting awareness of the seri- 
ousness of erosion and the need to establish sound conservation 
measures. For his efforts, Crossett was named Man of the Year 
by the Memphis Agricultural Club. 

John Wilder of Longtown, an organizer of the FCSCD, was 
president of the TASCD and also of the NASCD. Fayette County 
is the only district to have provided two presidents of the state 
organization. Steve Brunson of Moscow followed Wilder in this 
office and also served on the Board of Directors of the NASCD. 
Other early leaders in the district were Billie Armour of Somer- 
ville, William B. Cowan of LaGrange, S. F. Dunn of Piperton, 
and Farley Murphy of Rossville. 

Perhaps the most successful and most controversial project of 
the FCSCD was the clearing and snagging of Wolf River.. Though 
for many years farmers had discussed dredging the river, it was 
never proven to be cost effective. Finally, in 1976, the flooding 
caused by heavy spring rains completely filled the river with sand 
and debris. Money therefore became available from the USDA un- 
der the Emergency Flood Control Act. In 1978, with the project 



1927 flood at 

Wolf River 

Bridge, Moscow. 

just a litde over half done, environmental groups threatened to sue 
the district for destroying natural wetlands. Through the efforts 
of Brunson and other local governmental officials, a compromise 
was reached and the project was completed. 

Industry and Commerce 

One of the first needs of the early settlers was a mill where 
their corn could be ground. Probably the first such mill in the 
county was the one built in 1825 by David Jernigan and William 
Owen on the North Fork of Wolf River, seven miles southeast of 
Somerville. The next mill of record was one for the Somerville 
area, a grist- and sawmill on the Loosahatchie River about one- 
half mile northeast of the town, for in February 1826 the court 
allowed Thomas J. Hardeman and S. B. Smith of Hardeman 
County and Benjamin Newbern to build this mill on their own 
land, the site being on the James Brown land entry no. 1599. 

Goodspeed's history of Fayette County (1887) credits 
Thomas Cook with building a horse-powered mill southeast of 

44 Teiniessee County Histon Series 

Somerville in 1827 and Matthew Spurlock with another one 
shorth thereafter. In 1829 the court allowed Joseph Coe to erect 
a grist- and sawmill on his land on Muddy Creek about eight 
miles north of Somerville. Lawrence G. Evans built a mill on the 
Loosahatchie in 1832 about nine miles northwest of Somerville. 
One of the county's best known mills, Salmons Mill, often called 
Solomons Mill, was also located on the Loosahatchie about five 
miles from Somerville. It was in existence in 1836 (Tennessee 
Archives map) as Govan's Mill. Dr Edward Mumford Ford 
bought it in 1843 from A. R. Govan. Later it was owned by John 
Burtis. Snyder B. Salmon, who married into the Burtis family, 
either acquired this mill or built another on the site about 1 857 — 
a large mill for grinding both wheat and corn. 

Two mills are known to have existed in the Moscow area. 
About 1835 Meredith W. Edwards commenced operation of Ed- 
wards' Mill on the North Fork of Wolf River about 3V2 miles 
northeast of Moscow. Kain A. McCaughn contracted to buy Ed- 
wards' Mill in 1847, with plans to build a new mill house and 
waterworks dam. He turned this into a grist, saw, and flour mill, 
and called it the McCaughn Mill and Mineral Springs. After his 
death it was advertised in the Memphis papers for sale in the fall 
of 1855. In later years, this mill has been referred to as Locke 
Mill. The other mill in the Moscow area was northwest of town 
and was the last of the old watermills to be used for grinding 
corn. The mill, built by an early settler named Lightle (or Lytle) 
had a number of owners, including Hudson Harris, D.J. Rogers, 
T F. Rogers, and Billy Will Pearce. From 1933 to 1936, when 
operation was discontinued, Johnny Owen operated this mill. 

Not everyone in the county was pleased with the prolifera- 
tion of mills along the larger streams in early days. In 1833 the 
Legislature received a petition against the repeal of the Wolf 
River Navigation Act, stating that proprietors had paid for clear- 
ing out the river and also that the county had appropriated 
funds for clearing, that for two or three years they had carried 
produce to market by flatboat and keelboat on the river, and that 
they did not want the river obstructed by mills. 

Cotton gins were also built throughout the county, using 


horses for power. The first cotton gin was apparently the one 
built by George Bond in 1830. Later in the nineteenth century, 
three black brothers, Emanuel, Mose, and Isaac Person, each 
owned a horse-drawn cotton gin near Warren. Emanuel later 
converted his to steam and operated it until 1920 or later Every 
town had two or three gins. Today there are nine gins through- 
out the county, and in the fall of the year they are all kept busy 
processing the yield of the cropland. 

Logging became increasingly popular after the coming of 
the railroads into the county. Huge stands of cypress in the 
swampy lowlands and abundant forests of hardwood on the 
higher slopes provided raw material for the numerous sawmills 
erected throughout the county. Such mills were to be found in 
every town. The lumber that was not used locally was shipped 
out. Lumbering is still an important industry. 

As unlikely as it may seem, Fayette County was at one time the 
center of a plan to establish a silk industry. The West Tennessee Silk 
Company was organized in 1838 with William Ruffin as president. 
A nursery was established for the propagation of mulberry trees 
on which the silkworms were to feed. The silk culture craze af- 
fected the entire state in the early 1840s, reaching its peak in 1842, 
when "Lean Jimmy" Jones wore a suit made of Tennessee silk on 
the day he took office for the second time as governor of Tennes- 
see. The venture did not prove profitable, however; the boom 
passed and people returned to their former pursuits. 

Other early industries included a factory in Somerville where 
Daniel Webb manufactured tobacco products prior to 1850. Also 
in Somerville was the "Model Coach Factory" situated near the 
Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Established by R. H. Baird 
and L N. Farris in 1855, the company placed the following ad- 
vertisement in the Memphis papers that fall: "Carriages are 
being manufactured in Somerville by Baird, Farris, and Com- 
pany, who have established a large carriage department and are 
manufacturing buggies, carriages, and vehicles of all kinds." 

Gristmills, cotton gins, sawmills, and tanneries were the most 
common types of industry in the county until the middle of the 
twentieth century. In the 1940s, Ashford Manufacturing Com- 

46 Tennessee Coioity Histon Series 

pany at Moscow began producing cabinets which were shipped 
to markets throughout the eastern United States. In 1952 H&C 
Table Company, a small furniture factory which had been op- 
erating in Memphis, moved to Somerville. From these small be- 
ginnings, industrial development began in the county. In 1961 
Troxel Manufacturing Company, the world's largest manufac- 
turer of bicycle seats, opened its plant at Moscow, having moved 
from Elyria, Ohio. Other products have been added to the out- 
put of this company, which employs over 600 persons. 

Although still considered a farming area, this county now has 
32 manufacturing companies. Of these, two are located in Bra- 
den, seven in Gallaway, six in Moscow, three in Oakland, three 
in Piperton, five in Rossville, and six in Somerville. 

Most of these industries employ small numbers of workers. 
In addition to Troxel Manufacturing Company at Moscow, three 
companies in Somerville have over 100 employees each. They 
are Somerville Mills, maker of ladies' panties, which employs 
285; Master Apparel, producer of men's pants, with 225 work- 
ers; and Fayette Automotive Specialties, manufacturer of car 
seat covers and convertible tops, which has 154 employees. Voll- 
rath Corporation at Gallaway employs 175 workers, and the Al- 
pha Corporation at Piperton, producer of polyester resin, 
employs 195. The frozen food plant at Rossville, which was re- 
cently sold by United Foods to Mrs. Smith's Frozen Pies, will em- 
ploy a large number of workers. 

Among those companies employing a smaller work force is 
Hurdle Machine Works at Moscow. Ennis J. Hurdle, Jr., a native 
of Moscow, established the firm in 1970 to manufacture a port- 
able automatic sawmill he designed. It is the only company in 
the United States to build portable automatic machines exclu- 
sively. Most of the sawmill parts are manufactured at the plant, 
making it a nearly self-sufficient operation. The company has 
sawmills operating in 16 states and grosses over $1,000,000 an- 
nually. About 12 workers are employed at the plant. 

Over 2000 people are employed in the various industries in 
the county. Although Fayette County has been primarily an ag- 
ricultural area, it is now actively seeking industry. Seven towns 


in the county have industrial sites established on a total of 440 
acres, ranging in size from 12 acres to over 100 acres. 

The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce has been a cat- 
alyst for change in the county. Organized and chartered in 1979 
by a group of business- and civic-minded citizens from through- 
out the county, it became a vehicle through which business peo- 
ple work together for the common good of the people and their 

Each year the Chamber produces a community profile, list- 
ing the facilities in each town and the opportunities for growth 
in each area. These booklets are widely distributed, especially to 
industries seeking relocation. Under the leadership of Executive 
Secretary Gayle Bowling, the Chamber has become a vital 
agency in the progress of the county. 


Shortly after the settlement of the county enterprising men 
made efforts to establish banking facilities. The first effort to 
bring a bank to the county resulted in a branch of the Planters 
Bank of Tennessee opening in LaGrange in 1833. Very little is 
known of this branch other than that E. B. Smith was cashier in 
1842. The bank closed before 1851. 

Somerville was selected as the site of a branch of the Ten- 
nessee State Bank on May 15, 1838. In 1848 it had a capital of 
$254,208. Members of the board of directors were Whitfield 
Boyd, James A. Heaslett, Joel L. Jones, Hugh D. Neilson, 
Henderson Owens, William Ruffin, John Willfong, and Lewis P. 
Williamson, all of Fayette County. Others on the board were Wil- 
liam Irions of Hardeman County, Asbury Crenshaw of Shelby 
County, and A. L. Matthews of Tipton. From 1848 to 1857, Ow- 
ens served as president, being succeeded by Alexander William- 
son, who served until 1863. Cashiers were James Petit (1848- 
1858) and N. Rhodes (1858-1863). At the close of the Civil War, 
the financial situation was precarious. The war had wrecked 
businesses of all kinds. In 1866 the Legislature brought an end 
to the Tennessee State Bank. 

There is no record of any bank in the county until 1895, 


Tennessee County History Series 


^//// Capital $50000?? 

Undivided Pcofits $20000a« 

Fayette County 
Bank, 1895; 
home of Somer- 
ville Bank and 
Trust since 1930. 

when the Fayette County Bank was opened in Somerville on the 
south side of the square, where the Somerville Bank and Trust 
Company now stands. The first cashier was A. J. Rooks, who 
served until his death in 1898. Captain Edgar A. Maddox later 
served as cashier Other employees were Blake Stainback and 
R. W. Sessums. The Fayette County Bank ceased operation on 
December 9, 1926. 

Three other banks which enjoyed a period of success are no 
longer in existence. The Bank of Williston received a charter of 
incorporation on April 1, 191 1. Incorporators were J. F. Barron, 
J. B. Burnette, H. F. Crawford, W. A. Lyles, H. E. Patterson, 
J. A. Summers, and L J. Walker June Crawford was cashier for 
a long period of time. The bank was officially closed on January 
26, 1937. 

People's Bank of Rossville was chartered on September 18, 
1912, by T. W. Bowhng, J. T. Knox, R. B. Nebhut, R. C. Stone, 
and J. T. Towles, incorporators. The building was destroyed by 
fire in February of 1922, and the bank did not reopen. It sur- 
rendered its charter on January 24, 1925. 


LaGrange Savings Bank discontinued business on May 20, 
1924, by voluntary liquidation. Another bank, called the Bank 
of LaGrange, was granted a charter on January 30, 1930, and 
surrendered the charter on January 14, 1932. Incorporators 
were P. R. Beasley, C. L. Cogbill, W. B. Cowan, W. L.Jones, and 
R. B. Pankey. 

The banks of Fayette County weathered the "Great Depres- 
sion" well. Not a dollar was lost by a single depositor in a Fayette 
County bank during that time. 

Oakland Deposit Bank, the county's oldest bank, was char- 
tered on February 15, 1905. It was founded by Percy D. Henry, 
who came to Oakland from Kentucky. The first board of direc- 
tors were J. N. Clay, president; S. B. Reames, vice president; 
B.J. Flippin, P D. Henry, and W. R. Holland. R D. Henry was 
elected cashier, a position he held for 52 years. He has been fol- 
lowed in the banking business by his son, Percy J. Henry, and 
his grandson, James Henry, both of whom have served as pres- 
ident of Oakland Deposit Bank. 

Moscow Savings Bank received its charter on May 10, 1905. 
The incorporators were W. S. Ayers, J.J. Burnette, J. L. Jobe, 
R. E. Newby, and F. L. Wilson. The first president was J. E. Bur- 
nette (father of one of the incorporators); the first cashier, J. L. 
Jobe. Junius L. Crossett, who was associated with the bank from 
the early 1920s until his death in 1960, served a long period as 
cashier, then as president. W. B. Franklin of LaGrange had the 
longest tenure as president, serving from 1915 until 1952. Oth- 
ers who have occupied the presidency of Moscow Savings Bank 
are W. R. Fite, Vernon Gilliland, Thomas V. Luck, Jr, and How- 
ard Moore. 

Rossville Savings Bank was chartered on September 25, 
1909, the directors being M. Baird, F. F. Boyd, W. H. Chambers, 
C. N. Crook, T. H. Gillespie, W. S. Jameson, J. H. Johnson, 
R. E. Stone, and A. S. Waller J. B. Rives was cashier and John 
L. Crawford, assistant cashier S. R. Bulle was president of Ross- 
ville Savings Bank for a number of years. This bank is now a 
branch of Somerville Bank and Trust Company. 

On March 1, 1910, a charter for the Somerville Bank and 

50 Tennessee County History Series 

Trust Company was issued to the following incorporators: J. E. 
Boswell, W. E. Narramore, J. T. Rhea, H. S. Shaw, and E N. Yan- 
cey. The first president was Dr Thomas Bragg Yancey. Others 
who have served as president are J. T Rhea, Dr C. W. Robert- 
son, William Mayo, H. R Stainback, Dr John L. Morris, Paul 
Barrett, Sr, and W. B. Wilkinson. James H. Shelton, who suc- 
ceeded Wilkinson as president, has also served as president of 
the Tennessee State Banking Association. As an indication of the 
solidity of this bank, in 1980 during Shelton s presidency, the 
Somerville Bank and Trust Company was adjudged sixteenth 
strongest among all the banks of the United States. 

The newest bank of the county is First State Bank of Fayette 
County, also located in Somerville. It was incorporated on June 
24, 1964, by Frank H. Boswell, Frank McKnight, Mrs. Ruffin 
Matthews, Reuben S. Rhea, and J. G. Walker, Sr The first pres- 
ident was James Freeland, who was succeeded by Charles Lindy 
Miller. Miller, in turn, was succeeded by Jack Dawson. The bank 
is located on Fayette Street (Highway 64). 


During earlier times it was generally felt that parents were 
responsible for the education of their own children, and primary 
education was, as a rule, provided by individual families. This 
teaching was often done by tutors employed by the family, using 
as a classroom one of the rooms of the home, or perhaps having 
a separate small building near the house which they called the 
schoolroom. Many of the older residents can recall these old 

About the time that Fayette County was being settled, the 
state was enacting laws that would ensure public education for 
its children. Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, Fayette County Sup- 
plement, credits a Mrs. Walker with starting the first school in 
Somerville in 1826. She was the mother of Simon Walker, the 
second register of the county, and is reported to have held school 
in the old log courthouse. No record exists of the number of 
pupils nor the type of instruction in this school. Records also 


show that in 1826 school was held in Moscow by a Dr. Smith. 
Soon thereafter academies were established in various parts of 
the county. 

In 1831 the Somerville Male Academy was opened, and in 
1833 the Somerville Female Institute began classes with Mat- 
thew Rhea as instructor. During the following years, there were 
other academies, institutes, and colleges at LaGrange, Macon, 
Oakland, Williston, and Hickory Withe. Yum Yum was the site 
of Walsedge Academy; Fletcher Academy was located atTanyard 
in District 15. In 1841 education was being provided in Moscow 
in a one-room log building. 

Efforts to establish a system of public schools in the state were 
just beginning to show some success when the Civil War inter- 
rupted the progress. After the war, the Legislature passed an 
educational act which provided for the election of a county su- 
perintendent of public instruction in each county and school di- 
rectors in each civil district. This was the real beginning of a state 
system of public education. 

The first superintendent of schools in Fayette County was 
William Maris, who was elected in April of 1873. In September 
of that year, he called together the various directors of schools 
throughout the county and the Fayette County School Directors' 
Association was formed. Officers elected were John R. Hendon, 
chairman, and J. I. Williamson, secretary. Public schools at that 
time were organized in a dual system of separate schools for 
white and black children. 

Maris served as superintendent until 1881, when Mrs. Nora 
Cannon was elected to the office, the first woman in Tennessee 
to hold an office by election. A well-educated person, she wrote 
and spoke three languages. She was reelected to the superinten- 
dency in 1 886 and served until her death in 1 888. The Reverend 
S. B. Adams of Macon was elected to fill the vacancy caused by 
her death. 

The many academies in the county advertised in the local 
paper, listing tuition from $2 to $4 per month. Later, when sup- 
plemented by tax money, tuition was free to all pupils in the 

52 Tennessee County History Series 

In January of 1891 Professor T. T. Hardy, former principal 
at Yum Yum and also of Williston Academy, succeeded the Rev- 
erend Adams as superintendent of public instruction. One of his 
first acts was to call together the school directors of the county 
"for the purpose of introducing a uniform system of textbooks, 
grading schools, and making rules to govern and control same." 
An increase in county tax for schools from 5^ to 15^ per $100 
of taxable property was expected to provide sufficient money for 
a ten-month free school. Superintendent Hardy's annual report 
in 1893 showed a school population of 2897 white and 8829 
black pupils. There were in operation 54 white schools and 45 
black schools, employing 131 teachers. 

In 1901 D. K. Donnell was elected superintendent. He had 
come to Fayette County in 1891 to take charge of Macon Acad- 
emy, and he continued in this position for a part of the time he 
held office. It was during his superintendency that the Fayette 
County Board of Education, the present governing and policy- 
making body, came into being. In 1909 the following men be- 
came members of that first board: J. K. Crawford, J. E. Griffin, 
E. T. Hanley, W.J. Murphy, and Wyatt Wilkinson. This was also 
the year that marked the end of academies and the establish- 
ment of county high schools. 

In 1917 Walter T. Loggins was elected superintendent and 
served until 192 1 , when he was succeeded by Julius B. Summers, 
during whose administration improvements were made in many 
of the buildings. A dormitory for girls and one for boys were 
provided for pupils attending high school in Somerville. Later, 
the site of the boy's dormitory was selected for the erection of a 
new building for Fayette County High School. 

In 1927 Fayette County elected its second woman superin- 
tendent, Mrs. A. G. Rose. She served until 1933, when she was 
succeeded by Enoch Mitchell, who had served as principal of 
Oakland School the previous yean This was the period of the 
Great Depression. During a part of this time there was no money 
to meet the payroll, and teachers were forced to discount their 
warrants if they received any pay at all. There was danger that 
the schools would have to close, but this disaster was averted and 



Fayette County High Sehool, Soinei ville. 
Courtesy of Mrs. Harrison Crawford 

the schools remained opened, though some curtailed their 
terms. During Mitchell's term of office, there was a concerted 
move toward consolidation of high schools. When he took office, 
there were five two-year high schools (at Braden, Macon, Oak- 
land, Williston, and Rossville) for white pupils; there was one 
four-year high school for black pupils (at Somerville). By 1937 
all high schools in the outlying towns had been closed, and the 
only schools offering secondary work were the two in Somer- 
ville, Fayette County High School for whites and Fayette County 
Training School for blacks. Pupils from throughout the county 
were transported by bus to these two schools. 

In 1938 Joseph Martin was elected to the office of superin- 
tendent, a position he held for 28 years. During his tenure much 
emphasis was placed on upgrading the curriculum. Appropri- 
ations for teaching supplies were increased, library services ex- 
panded, and health services provided. Many small schools were 
closed and consolidated to provide better opportunities for the 
pupils. In 1962 there were 65 elementary schools. The following 
year saw 26 of them absorbed into larger units. Another dozen 
closed their doors during the next two years, and by 1969 thir- 

54 Toniessee County History Series 

teen more had been abandoned. A building program of fantastic 
proportions was undertaken. 

After Martins retirement in 1967, Hoyte Carothers became 
superintendent. Others who have served in this capacity are 
John Bagwell and Wade Callicutt. The appointment of Dr War- 
ner Dickerson in 1986 gave Fayette County its first black 

Until 1965 Fayette County had continued operating a dual 
system of schools. In 1907 there were 68 schools for blacks in 
the county with 74 teachers. Most were one-teacher schools lo- 
cated in rural areas. The first high school for blacks was estab- 
lished in Somerville in 1912. Known as Jones Hall, some of the 
classes were held in Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The first teachers 
of this two-year high school, as far as can be ascertained, were 
Lamb Person and W T Pulliam. 

A few years later, Fayette County Training School for blacks 
two miles south of Summerville was constructed with funds from 
local sources and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, as well as individ- 
ual contributions of money and labor. W P. Ware came from 
Knoxville to serve as its first principal. His wife, Mrs. Margaret 
Ware, became the first black supervisor in Fayette County. 

In 1928, Fayette County Training School became a four-year 
high school. An old school ledger shows that in the school year 
1929-1930, 33 students were enrolled. The faculty included W 
P. Ware, principal; H. G. Sims, A. D. Hardy, and Miss L. L. Fu- 
qua. The ledger also lists the names of many who contributed 
gifts of money and free labor to aid in the building of the school. 
Some of the gifts were small, ranging from 10^ to $1, with an 
occasional contribution as large as $10 but in view of the wages 
paid at that time, some of the donations represented sacrifice on 
the part of the donor. Free labor on yard and pit work was re- 
corded. Some of the items showed a credit of $4 for two days 
work with a team and wagon, a like amount for one days work 
with three horses and a plow, and $2 for a horse for two days. 
In the 1940s a two-story brick building was constructed, fi- 
nanced by a bond issue authorized by the County Court. 

The consolidation program begun in 1963 and its accom- 


panying building program resulted in a much improved public 
school system. With the completion of Moscow- LaGrange school 
in the fall of 1988, there are only seven elementary schools in 
the county. All of these schools are organized for kindergarten 
through grade eight. Four of them have been accredited by the 
Committee of Elementary Schools of the Southern Association 
of Schools and Colleges and the others are seeking accreditation. 
The high school, which after 1969 had operated on two cam- 
puses under the name of Fayette- Ware High School, moved in 
1984 into a new multimillion dollar facility, which in 1985 was 
awarded meritorious citation for excellence in construction. The 
high school is also accredited by the Southern Association of Sec- 
ondary Schools. It is adjacent to a new comprehensive vocational 
high school which opened in 1980. 

The public school system is governed by a Board of Educa- 
tion composed of seven members appointed by the county com- 
missioners. The term of office is seven years, one member being 
appointed each year. James Cowan has served as chairman of 
this board since 1949. 

In addition to the fine opportunities offered by the public 
school system, there are several private academies within the 
county. Fayette Academy on Highway 64 two miles west of Som- 
erville offers kindergarten through grade twelve. Rossville 
Academy at Rossville also offers the same range of grades. 
Union Academy at Laconia offers only elementary level 


Perhaps the most illustrious writer from Fayette County is 
Sara Beaumont Kennedy, a gifted poet, author of several books 
and numerous articles, and editorial writer for the Memphis Com- 
mercial Appeal. Born in 1858 in Somerville, she was the daughter 
of Dr. Robert H. and Nora Devereux Cannon. Her father was a 
well-respected physician in the county and her mother, a noted 
educator. On January 10, 1888, in St. Thomas Episcopal Church 
in Somerville, Sara married Walker Kennedy, owner and editor 

56 Tennessee County History Series 

of the Memphis Sunday Times and later chief editorial writer of 
the Commercial Appeal. Together they made a great impact on the 
literary circles of Memphis. After the untimely death of her hus- 
band, Sara took over his desk and assumed editorial writing. The 
Sunday edition of the paper regularly carried her poems. 

Her novels included Cicely, a Civil War romance, published 
by Doubleday, Page Sc Co.; J ocelyn Cheshire SLud Jamestown Ro- 
mance, both published in 1901; The Wooing of Judith, published 
in 1902; and Told in a Little Boys Pocket, published in 1908. Her 
articles and short stories appeared in Literary Digest, Ladies Home 
Journal, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Magazine, Rnd McC lure's Magazine. 
Though her prose writings were of top rank, it was through her 
poetry that her real talent was exhibited. Two of her books are: 
One Wish and Other Poems of Love and Life, published by Merrill 
Sc Co., in 1915, and Poems, published by Cameo Press 8c Pub- 
lishing Co. in 1919. 

Honors came often to Sara Kennedy. Both she and her hus- 
band are included in Who's Who in America, and she in Who's Who 
in Tennessee. Following her death in 1920, a landscape by Chaun- 
cey Foster Ryder was presented to Brooks Art Gallery by the 
Nineteenth Century Club and other Memphis clubs in recog- 
nition of her contributions. 

One of todays writers of poetry is Guy Simmons of Moscow, 
dubbed by the editor of Ford Farming Magazine the "Poet Lau- 
reate of Rural America." A number of his poems have been pub- 
lished in that magazine, and Simmons was a frequent 
contributor to Paul Flowers' "Greenhouse," a column that for- 
merly appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. A farmer, ru- 
ral mail carrier, and World War II veteran, he draws on his 
experiences in these fields for the subjects of his poems, some 
serious, but most humorous. 

Compton Newby Crook, an internationally known science- 
fiction writer, was born in Rossville in 1908 and spent much of 
his youth in Moscow where his mother was a school teacher and 
his father a physician. Called "Newby" by his family and Fayette 
County friends, he was known as Compton Crook at Towson 
College in Maryland where he was a professor for 25 years. His 


special fields of interest were ecology, ornithology, and biological 
literature. Using the pseudonym "Stephen Tall," he authored a 
number of science-fiction books, among them The Ramsgate Par- 
adox (1976) and The People Beyond the VVW// (1980). He also wrote 
a number of short stories and was a regular contributor to Galaxy, 
IF, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. 

He succeeded in keeping secret his pseudonym for quite a 
while, but eventually an alert former student solved that mys- 
tery. In explaining why he chose the name "Stephen Tall, "he said 
it derived from two things, "his son Stephen and his contention 
that the world needed a counterbalance to Luke Short". 

An honorary member of the BSFS, he will be remembered 
by the society since his death in 1981 in the form of the "Comp- 
ton Crook/Stephen Tall Award," an annual award of $500 to the 
writer of his (or her) first science-fiction novel in the English 

Physicians and Health Care 

Health care has always received great emphasis in Fayette 
County. Physicians were among the most respected citizens, and 
over the years many "country doctors" have saved the lives and 
otherwise won the hearts of the people in their respective 

One of the first physicians to settle in Somerville was Josiah 
Higgason, whose home built in 1829 still stands within a block 
of the courthouse. A contemporary of Dr Higgason was Henry 
M. Johnson, who is said to have been not only the first doctor 
but also the first tavern keeper in Somerville. He was also a mem- 
ber of the first county court. The early physicians, as well as those 
of later days, were active in the political and business affairs of 
the county. Dn Edward Mumford Ford, who came to Somerville 
in 1834, at one time owned a mill. 

Dr Robert A. Brown came to the county in 1 835 and founded 
the village of Macon. One of his contemporaries was Dr William 
W. Nelson who practiced in Macon for over 40 years. Dr William 

58 Tennessee County History Series 

H. Tarpley arrived in Macon in 1845 and continued his practice 
there for years. 

Among the early physicians in LaGrange were Henry Biggs, 
James Nicholson Cocke, Alfred L. Green, Abner D. Lewis, and 
Henry Skipwith Taylor. John Junius PuUiam was an outstanding 
doctor of LaGrange whose home was occupied by Federal troops 
during the Civil War. Dr. W. B. Wilkinson moved from LaGrange 
to Somerville in 1859. Dr. Whitson A. Harris, who began his 
practice of medicine in LaGrange, moved to Somerville and built 
his home there in 1873, a home which still stands on South Main 
Street. Dr. William E. Franklin was a LaGrange physician for 
many years. 

Dr. J. S. Washington, whose tombstone carries the title "A 
Confederate Surgeon," returned to Somerville after the Civil 
War and resumed practice. Other Somerville physicians of the 
postwar period included William J. Cannon, W. A. Ealey, James 
A. Albright, Christopher W Robertson, and Addison Orr Boals. 

Fayette County was seriously affected by the yellow fever epi- 
demic of 1878, and doctors ministered to the sick without regard 
to their own safety. In spite of their care, 154 fatalities occurred 
in the county, including a number of physicians. Somerville lost 
Dr. Joel L. Hobson and Dr. E. E. Harris, the son of Dr. Whitson 
Harris. In Moscow, Dr. J. S. Hill and Dr. J. M. Wheeler suc- 
cumbed. Victims in Williston included Dr. A. M. C. Dobbins and 
Dr. Joseph G. Garvin. Another casualty was Dr. Thomas H. Terry 
of Callaway. 

During the twentieth century Somerville has been favored 
with some dedicated doctors. Prominent among them is John W 
Morris. During World War I, Dr. Morris spent several months as 
a prisoner of war. Following the armistice, he returned to Som- 
erville to establish his practice. Dr. Morris was also active in many 
business pursuits, and established Morris Clinic in Somerville. 
In his honor, the Fayette County Health Department, which he 
helped establish, bears his name. 

Another clinic was established in Somerville by Dr. Herman 
Armstrong and his son, Dr. John L. Armstrong, a general sur- 


geon. Armstrong Clinic, a private general hospital, opened in 
1939 and closed in 1970. 

Other communities had their own local doctors. In 1870 Dn 
Americus V. Warr settled in Rossville and became one ot its lead- 
ing citizens. Active in the Masonic fraternity, Dr Warr served as 
Worshipful Grand Master of the State of Tennessee. Dr F. K. 
West, another of the outstanding "country doctors" who gave 
many years of service to the Rossville community, has been me- 
morialized by having the bridge over Wolf River in Rossville 
named in his honor. 

The "Poor Peoples Clinic" at Rossville opened in the 1970s 
in a portable building on the western edge of the town. It min- 
istered to many indigent citizens in the southern part of the 
county. In 1982 the building was replaced with a well-equipped 
brick structure, and the name was changed to Rossville Health 
Center. It is staffed by medical personnel from Memphis. 

Around the turn of the century, Moscow had a numer of phy- 
sicians, among whom were J. H. Cocke, Joseph E. Murta, G. W 
Musgrave, J. M. Steverson, and George H. Turnley. In 1918 Dn 
M. B. Feemster came to Moscow and began a practice which 
lasted the next 30 years. The Dr. M. B. Feemster Bridge over 
Wolf River at Moscow stands as reminder of his service to the 
community. He was for many years a member of the Fayette 
County Board of Education. 

In Oakland, Dr. Louis McAuley ministered to the ills of the 
community for many years. Dr. James Rice of Braden, Dr James 
W Karr of Hickory Withe, and Dr. W A. Mewborn also served 
their communities well. 

In 1972 Fayette County General Hospital opened in Somer- 
ville. Dr. Frank McKnight was Chief of Staff. Other local doctors 
connected with the hospital were John Bishop, Lloyd Plemmons, 
Karl Rhea, and Lee Rush. The chief surgeon was Ray Hawkins. 
In 1982 the hospital became a part of the Methodist Hospital 

Two nursing homes in the county provide care for the chron- 
ically ill. One is located in Somerville, the other in Callaway. 

60 Toniessee County History Series 


The legal profession was well represented among the early 
settlers and has remained so throughout the years. Most of the 
lawyers have resided in the county seat, though other localities 
claim a few. 

Among the first members of the bar in Fayette county were 
John Brown, Levin Coe, and West Humphreys. Others of an 
early date were R. S. Parham, J. L. PuUiam, P. T. Scruggs, and 
Asbury Warren. 

Following the Civil War, lawyers in the county were W B. 
Dortch, T.J. Flippin, H. C. Moorman, and E. R. Scruggs. In the 
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries W A. Turner prac- 
ticed law in LaGrange, E. D. Steger and J. J. Steger practiced in 
Moscow, and H. P. Hobson, F. A. Mayo, T. K. Reddick, and 
C. A. Stainback practiced in Somerville. 

A number of men who later won recognition in the field of 
law far beyond the borders of Fayette County began their ca- 
reers in the county. Judge John L. T Sneed of LaGrange won a 
seat on the Tennessee State Supreme Court. Another LaGrange 
barrister, William Milliken, was one of the compilers of the Mil- 
liken and Ventrees'Code of Tennessee Laws. Judge Lois Billiard 
Bejach of Memphis, a distinguishedjurist of the Chancery Court 
of Tennessee, was a native of Moscow and graduated from Har- 
vard Law School. He served in both the Tennessee House of 
Representatives and Senate (1921), during which time he au- 
thored the Bejach Law giving property rights to women. 

A family whose contributions to the law profession in Fayette 
County has extended through four generations was begun in 
1872 when Charles Ashley Stainback, Sr, returned to Fayette 
County to begin the practice of law after his graduation from 
Cumberland University of Law. His son, Ingram Stainback, who 
was born in Somerville, attended Princeton University and stud- 
ied law at the University of Chicago. He became United States 
Attorney for the Hawaiian Islands in 1934. In 1942 President 
Roosevelt appointed him Territorial Governor of Hawaii, a po- 
sition he held until 1951. Another son, Charles A. Stainback, Jr, 


graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1901, 
finishing first in his class. He was a respected member of the bar 
in Somerville from that time until his death in 1961. A recog- 
nized leader in political affairs, he was four times a delegate to 
the Democratic National Convention. A great-grandson of C. A. 
Stainback, Sr, John Payson Matthews, III, is one of the present- 
day lawyers in the county. 

Other present members of the profession are Kerry Black- 
wood, circuit judge of the judicial district encompassing Fayette, 
Flardeman, McNairy, Lauderdale, and Tipton counties; Eliza- 
beth Thompson Rice, assistant district attorney; Patil Summers, 
who served as executive secretary of the Tennessee Supreme 
Court and later as a judge on the state court of appeals; his son, 
District Attorney Paul Garvin Summers; Troy W. Tomlin, who 
has served as county attorney for almost 40 years; and John Shel- 
ton Wilder, lieutenant governor of Tennessee since 1971. 

Among other local attorneys are Walt Freeman, Edward 
Johnson, Preston Parks, James Wilder, and Joe Cocke, former 
clerk and master 


Within a few years after the first settlers began to arrive, 
churches of several denominations appeared in the county. 

Baptist Churches 

The earliest date recorded for the organization of any 
church in the county is 1824, the same year the county itself 
was organized. According to the minutes of the Fayette Coun- 
ty Baptist Association, Liberty Baptist Church was organized 
that year At least one other early church can be documented 
by associational minutes. Wolf River Baptist Church was 
represented in convention at the Liberty Meeting House in 
Madison County on October 1, 1825, by Henry Kirk and John T. 
Patterson. Hopewell Baptist Church was established in 1830, 
its leaders being Aaron Compton, Wilson Griffin, and the afore- 
mentioned Henry Kirk. In the minutes of the association, a 

62 Tennessee County History Series 

church is listed at Williston with the date of 1826, but this date 
is probably established by tracing its history back to Ebenezer 
and Johnsons Chapel. The Ebenezer Church still stands, but is 
unoccupied. The brick building, erected in 1854, is about two 
miles southeast of Williston. Early members of Ebenezer came 
from Johnsons Chapel about a mile south of Ebenezer, where 
the congregation had worshiped in a log church. When the pres- 
ent Baptist Church at Williston was erected in 1928 members of 
Ebenezer Church moved their membership there. While the 
church building is no longer in use, the cemetery is still used and 
is kept in excellent condition. 

Other Baptist churches organized in the nineteenth century 
included Mt. Moriah (1834), Somerville (1838), and Mt. Olive 

The Baptist Church at Somerville has suffered two disas- 
trous fires. A white frame sanctuary located on Marginal Street 
was destroyed by fire on November 24, 1 94 1 . The members then 
built a brick edifice on Church Street. In 1972 this also burned. 
It was replaced by an impressive brick sanctuary on South Main 
Street. A large, well-equipped activities building on the corner 
of Charleston and South Main provides for the recreational 
needs of the congregation. 

During the present century 12 additional Baptist congre- 
gations have been organized in the county. They are Morris 
Memorial at Moscow (1901); Feathers Chapel (1908); Hickory 
Grove (1914); Rossville (1920); Callaway (1923); Oak Grove 
(1926); Shady Grove (1930); Kirk (1932); Forty-five (1939); 
Oakland (exact date undetermined); Hickory Withe (1970); and 

A Missionary Baptist Church called Shiloh was organized 
near Piperton sometime before 1836 and remained active until 
about 1 874. James G. Hallwasministerof this church when mes- 
sengers petitioned to be seated at a meeting of the Big Hatchie 
Association in 1836. 

Mt. Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, the only church of that 
denomination in the county now, was founded in 1832, accord- 
ing to church minutes. The 1 1 charter members of the congre- 


gation were Elizabeth Arnold, Elizabeth Hill, Martha Hurley, 
Darling Long, Temperance Long, James Richey, Elizabeth Stin- 
son, Elizabeth Thrasher, Sarah Thrasher, and Zachariah Winn. 
Mt. Pisgah is fortunate in having minutes of its proceedings dat- 
ing back to its organization. 

There have been at least two other Primitive Baptist 
churches in the county. In 1873 Mt. Zion was represented at the 
annual meeting of the Mississippi River Association of Baptists 
held at El Bethel in Shelby County. Another one was Pleasant 
Hill, on Pittman Road between Jernigan Road and Sardis Road 
in Civil District 15. In 1909 deacons of Pleasant Hill were W. A. 
Bishop and John T. Davis. The church and cemetery have now 
been abandoned and the members joined Mt. Pisgah. 

Presbyterian Churches 

The first Presbyterian Church in the county was located in 
Somerville. Organized on May 14, 1829, by the Reverend Alex- 
ander Augustus Campbell, it became a part of the Presbytery of 
the Western district on November 6, 1829. Peter Randolph 
Bland, Bennett H. Henderson, and George Williams were cho- 
sen as elders. Deacons were A. J. Lansberry and John Mcintosh. 
Trustees were John C. Cooper, William Farmer, Jarman Koonce, 
Matthew Rhea, James A. Williamson, and John Woodfin. 

In 1830 a building was erected on South Main Street just a 
short distance from the courthouse. Four buildings have stood 
on this site. The first was constructed of handhewn logs cut from 
surrounding trees. A second building, a brick structure, was 
erected in 1840 and was said to have had a slave gallery. A third 
sanctuary, built in 1869, was replaced in 1895 by the present 
building. The recent construction of a beautiful educational and 
recreational annex has enlarged the scope of activities available 
to the members. None of the buildings of this church ever 
burned, but all church records were lost when fire destroyed the 
home of one of the elders who was keeping the records. There- 
fore, much of the history of his church depends upon oral 

Among well-remembered ministers who served this congre- 

64 Tennessee County History Series 

gation was the Reverend Franklin Merriam Howell, pastor in 
1878 during the yellow fever epidemic. He attended the stricken 
and dving, helping to bury them, until he too contracted the 
fever and died. He was one of two Somerville ministers to die in 
the epidemic that year 

Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church had its origin in a 
church established at Prosperity near Oakland in 1834. A log 
building was erected and served the congregation until 1850 
when the Memphis Presbytery divided the membership, a part 
going to Hickory Withe and the others to Macon. The Reverend 
S. S. Gill was pastor of the Hickory Withe church for 45 years. 
The Macon church dissolved in 1906. 

A Presbyterian congregation organized a church in Oakland 
in 1889. First officers of the Oakland Presbyterian Church were 
Dr. W. S. A. Castles, J. P Matthews, and D. S. Wilson. 

Other Presbyterian churches that have formerly been active 
in the county are those at LaGrange, organized in 1834 and dis- 
solved in 1926; Rehoboth, organized in 1838, dissolved in 1859, 
reorganized in 1874, and dissolved again some years later; and 
Hebron, organized in 1905 on the Somerville-Stanton Road. 
Several years ago the Presbyterians and Methodists in this area 
united into one congregation. The church is known today as 
Bethlehem United Methodist Church but the adjoining ceme- 
tery bears the name of Hebron Cemetery. 

Methodist Churches 

People of the Methodist persuasion were among the first set- 
tlers in the county. The earliest Methodist preachers in Fayette 
County were itinerant circuit riders of the Western Conference, 
Methodist Episcopal Church, for the Memphis Conference was 
not organized until 1840. 

It is difficult to determine the oldest Methodist Church in 
the county, but Somerville Methodist Church, Asbury Chapel, 
Jones Chapel, and LaGrange Church all belong to the decade 
of the 1830s. The first appointment which can be documented 
is found in the minutes of 1832. In that year, Phineas T Scruggs 


was appointed pastor of the Somerville Church. In 1833 an en- 
try was made for LaGrange. 

In October of 1837 the Somerville Church was host for the 
26th annual session of the Western Conference. It was the sec- 
ond and last time that the Western Conference met west of the 
Tennessee River. Bishop James O. Andrew presided over the 
conference and the two Somerville pastors were William M. 
McFerrin and John R Stafford. At that time the church at Som- 
erville was called Green Coe Chapel in honor of John Green 
Coe, who fell in battle during the Texas war for independence 
from Mexico. 

Seven years later the Memphis Conference met at Somerville 
in a momentous session. During that year the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church in America had become divided on the issue of 
slavery. Following the session of General Conference, two sepa- 
rate church organizations came into being, the Methodist 
Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Coming as 
it did after the General Conference had met, the meeting held 
in Somerville on November 20, 1844, was the first session of the 
Memphis Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 

The first church in the Rossville area was the Mt. Vernon M. 
E. Church, South, organized in 1850 on land deeded by David 
Jernigan. In 1915 the land was sold to a black congregation. In 
1 89 1 Methodists of Rossville erected a sanctuary, the forerunner 
of the Rossville United Methodist Church of today. 

Other Methodists churches in the county included Asbury 
(organized before 1838), Jones Chapel, and Taylors chapel 
(1847). The church at Moscow was organized in 1854, and Rob- 
ert V. Taylor was appointed pastor in 1855. Services were first 
held in a log church, then in a two-story frame building owned 
jointly by the church and the Masonic Lodge. Another frame 
building, erected in 1891, was replaced with a brick sanctuary 
in 1916. 

Oakland is first listed in the appointments of 1866. Other 
churches whose names appear in the list of appointments are: 
Macon (1870), Williston and Belmont (1878), Taylors Chapel 


Tennessee County History Series 

The tabernacle at Joyner's Campground. 

and Oak Grove (1882), Chambers' Chapel (1886), and Braden 

Methodist churches once active in the county which have 
closed over the years include Asbury, Bryants Arbor, Center 
Point, Concordia, Cypress, Good Springs, Haffords Chapel, 
Jones Chapel, Lynn Chapel, Macedonia, Old Pontotoc, Spring- 
hill, Smyrna, and Taylor's Chapel. 

In the late years of the nineteenth century and early part of 
the twentieth century, camp meetings were features of Meth- 
odism. Although few of them are left, Joyner's Campground, a 
few miles northeast of Somerville, still holds revival services 
every summer. Mr. J. T. Joyner donated five acres and Mrs. Pris- 
cilla Jackson gave two acres on which to establish the 

The first "brush arbor "meeting was held on this site in 1893, 
under the direction of the Reverend Robert V. Taylor. By the 
end of the second year a tabernacle had been built, a very large 
shedlike structure with wooden benches and a dirt floor covered 
with sawdust. Except for the installation of electric lights to re- 
place the lanterns that hung from posts, the tabernacle is much 
the same today as it was in 1 893 . Cabins were erected for families 


who spent one or two weeks at the campground; the first log 
cabin buih there still stands. A hotel provided lodging and meals 
for those who did not have their own cabins. A bath house has 
been built, along with a well to replace the old spring used for 
so long. The "ole swimmin' hole" was a joy to yoimg people at- 
tending camp meeting, although for a long time girls and boys 
were not allowed to swim together. 

The camp meeting soon grew to be an inspirational occasion 
for many people for a long time. Families came from 15 to 20 
miles away to worship there, arriving in their buggies to stay a 
few days or a week. Services were held practically all day and 
into the night — sunrise prayer meetings, preaching at 9, 11,3, 
and 5, and then again at night. Most often the sermons were 
long. There was much singing, and "Aniens" could be heard 
from many pews. The time-honored custom of blowing a cow 
horn to summon people to services began a long time back, prob- 
ably from the first year of the assembly. It is a practice still 

Many well-known preachers of bygone days have held ser- 
vices at Joyner s Campground. The Reverend H. A. Butts, min- 
ister and evangelist in the Memphis Conference, was president 
of the campground association for many years. 

Camp meeting begins each year on the last Sunday in July 
and continues through the next Sunday. There are now 12 fam- 
ilies who are regular campers, many of whom have camped each 
summer all their lives, as their parents and grandparents before 
them, carrying on a tradition that has left its mark on the reli- 
gious life of Fayette Countians. 

Episcopal Churches 

The founding of the Episcopal Church in Fayette County 
began with Mrs. Mary Hayes Willis Gloster, a widow who came 
to LaGrange in 1827 with her son-in-law, John Anderson, and 
his brother George. Mrs. Gloster and her family were devout 
Episcopalians, and finding no house of worship in their village, 
they were deeply concerned. Their concern led to action. 

In 1832 Mrs. Gloster decided to go to Columbia, Tennessee, 


Tennessee County History Series 

Immanuel Episcopal Church, LaGrange. 

to talk to her godson, the Reverend James Hervey Otey, about 
the need for a church in this area. At the time Mrs. Gloster was 
52 years old. She rode horseback through the sparsely settled 
country, accompanied by a faithful black servant of John An- 
derson. Family tradition relates that in one arm, as she rode her 
horse, she carried a grandchild, and that below her other arm, 
tied to her sidesaddle, was an earthen jar filled with peach 
brandy. Mrs. Gloster s explanation was that the presence of the 
child would ward off advances by males and the peach brandy 
would afford protection from chills and fever. The charm must 
have worked, for she was able to report her mission 

The Reverend Thomas Wright was sent in response to her 
plea. Soon he organized Immanuel Parish in LaGrange, with the 
Reverend Samuel Litton the first rector. For some years, services 
were conducted in a small frame building provided by Mrs. Glos- 
ter and her family. In 1843 a brick sanctuary containing a slave 
gallery was erected. Services have been held there continuously. 
It is said to be the oldest Episcopal Church building in Tennessee 
and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Mrs. Gloster's ride brought results that reached beyond the 


confines of her village of LaGrange, for the Reverend Wright 
organized not only Immanuel Parish in LaGrange, but also St. 
Lukes in Jackson, St. Paul in Randolph, and St. I homas in 

The founders of St. Thomas are considered to be Dtirant 
Hatch, Jr, his daughters, Mrs. Henry G. Smith and Mrs. George 
M. Smith, and George Phillips. The Reverend Samuel Litton 
also ministered to this congregation. Though never very large 
in numbers, the communicants of St. Thomas included some of 
the most infiuential citizens of the county. The sanctuary was 
constructed in 1858, giving it the distinction of being the oldest 
church building in the county seat. 

Among the rectors who have served this parish was the Rev- 
erend John M. Schwrar, who began his service to both St. 
Thomas and Immanuel Parish in 1872. In the yellow fever ep- 
idemic of 1878 he remained to minister to his people, and like 
the Presbyterian minister Howell, he succumbed to the disease. 
One of the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary is 
dedicated to his memory. 

The only other Episcopal Church in the county was St. An- 
drew, northeast of Belmont near the Tipton County line. It was 
organized by Peter Bland. Most of the communicants had for- 
merly been connected with Emmaus Episcopal Church in Tipton 
County. After the death of the Reverend Bland in 1859, the 
church was served by the Reverend John S. Winford, who was 
followed by the Reverend P. H. Thompson. In 1869 the church 
was moved to Mason in Tipton County. 

Cumberland Presbyterian Churches 

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church also came early into 
the county. Church records indicate that there were once seven 
churches of that denomination here. They were Hickory Withe, 
Macon, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Grove, Shady Grove, 
and Shiloh. Only three have survived to the late twentieth cen- 
tury. They are Mt. Carmel at Laconia, Pleasant Grove near Mos- 
cow, and Shady Grove on the Williston-Macon Road. 

The Shady Grove Church near Williston was established in 

70 Tennessee County History Series 

1834 and has preserved records since 1839, probably the first 
kept by the session. In 1839 there were three elders: Daniel S. 
Baxter, C. C. Cogbill, and R. C. Dongan. The pastor was the Rev- 
erend Israel S. Pickens. 

Pleasant Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, about 3 
miles west of Moscow, also has a long history, but the date of 
establishment cannot be determined. The cemetery which ad- 
joins the church has graves dating back to the 1880s. 

Mt. Carmel Church was established after the Tennessee Mid- 
land Railroad was built through Laconia in 1888, when that vil- 
lage grew up around the depot. 

Church of Christ 

A denomination which made its appearance in the county 
somewhat later, but which has become well established, is the 
Church of Christ. Its first congregation in Fayette County was 
organized in 1908 in Macon. The first minister was J. D. Tant, 
and the first elders were J. W. Crews and J. L. Dade. 

About 1920, F. P. Taylor came to Fayette County to hold ser- 
vices. Brush arbor meetings were held in the vicinity of the pres- 
ent Spring Hill Church about seven miles northeast of 
Somerville and a building was erected. A church was also orga- 
nized at Oakland. Members of the denomination who lived in 
Somerville attended services at Macon until 1940 at which time 
they began to meet at the home of H. D. Pierce. The old South- 
ern Railway depot on Charleston Street served as a meeting 
house for the Somerville congregation for a while. In 1962 a 
handsome sanctuary was erected on Highway 64 West. 

Christian Church and Other Denominations 

The Christian Church has two congregations in the county. 
One is in the Kirk community near the Shelby County line. The 
other, Pleasants Christian Church, is on the Rossville-Macon 
Road about midway between the two towns. Pleasants Christian 
Church had its origin in 1837 when a group met to worship in 
an old log building near "Murphy's Gate." This group was com- 
posed of the families of Thomas I. Johnson, William L. Pleas- 


ants, and William Swift. In 1840 Matthew W. Webber came to 
Fayette County and became the first minister ot this congrega- 
tion. Another log building and a frame building on Pleasants' 
land were used for services before the present structure was 
erected in 1937. 

The first Roman Catholic Church in the county began as a 
mission in 1975. It met during the first year in the sanctuary of 
St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Somerville. Within five years 
the communicants had erected their own building, St. Philip the 
Apostle, on Highway 64 near Warren. 

Other denominations which have one or more congregations 
in the county are the Full Gospel Evangelical Church, the 
Church of the Nazarene, the Church of God, Seventh Day Ad- 
ventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Black Churches 

Churches of the black congregations have occupied an im- 
portant part in the history of the county. They have not only 
offered spiritual leadership, but have also served as centers of 
cultural and social action. 

Prior to the Civil War, most of the blacks who were slaves 
worshipped in the churches of their owners. Many of the white 
churches of that era had slave galleries, and most of the con- 
gregations numbered among their members some persons of 
the black race. 

C. M. E. Churches 

Records show that the earliest black churches were Meth- 
odist. In 1845 Somerville and LaGrange both had Colored Mis- 
sions. The Memphis Daily Appeal of November 4, 1854, in an 
account of the proceedings of the Memphis Annual Conference 
listed in attendance J. W Waldrup of LaGrange Colored Mis- 
sion. In 1857 George P. Shelton, a leading merchant of La- 
Grange, deeded a 200-foot lot fronting on Commerce Street to 
the LaGrange Colored Mission. 

In 1866, following the Civil War, the Methodists created the 
Somerville Colored District to serve members of that denomi- 

72 Tennessee County History Series 

nation. Some of the C.M.E. Churches organized during the late 
1800s and eadv 1900s in the Rossville and Moscow areas are 
Dickerson, Hebrew, Mt. Zion, and Stinson. 

Morris Chapel C.M.E. Church at Somerville had its begin- 
ning on December 19, 1854, when a Mr Wilson gave a ware- 
house he owned on Charleston Street to the congregation for 
the purpose of building a church. Trustees who signed the deed 
were Orange Greenway, Jerry Lawhorn, Branch Murray, Wil- 
liam Nelson, and Charles Worrell. Between 1854 and 1870 the 
church was connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church 
South. Then it became a part of the Colored Methodist Epis- 
copal Church under the leadership of Bishop Isaac Lane. It was 
named Morris Chapel in honor of its first pastor, Morris 
Bracken. For 119 years the congregation worshipped in the 
building on Charleston Street. On July 22, 1973, under the pas- 
torate of the Reverend J. H. Jarrett, they moved into a new sanc- 
tuary on Macon Road on the southwest edge of town. Trustees 
w ho signed the deed for the new building were Harry Coleman, 
Helen Dortch, Hosely Jones, Noah McFerren, David Niles, Si- 
mon Stewart, and Jessie Still. Among those who have served as 
superintendent of the Sunday School are Horace Ewell, Hosely 
Jones, Eugene McFerren, Lucy Niles, Wayne Vasser, and Wen- 
dell Wainwright. 

Missionary Baptist 

Missionary Baptist churches have large congregations and 
devoted followers in all parts of the county. In the Macon area, 
Philadelphia Baptist Church has a long history. Founded in 1841 
as a church for a white congregation, it was deeded to the black 
members some years later The first black pastor was the Rev- 
erend Warren Otis; the first deacons were Joe Brown, Kellis 
Trueheart, Joe Wilson, Abrom Yancy, George Yancy, Ruff Yancy, 
and Nataleon Yancey. 

Bell Grove Baptist Church at Oakland was established in 
1878, and a log building was erected on land donated by Bob 
Gardner The first trustees were Washington Carter, Thomas 
McCulley, Thomas Nelson, and Lindy Waller The first minister 


was the Reverend Abraham Coburn. Ihe log building was re- 
placed with a frame structure which was remodeled in 1953 dur- 
ing the pastorate of the Reverend H.J. Thompson. 

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church near Braden was 
founded by the Reverend E. N. Fields in a brush arbor near the 
site of the present church. The first permanent sanctuary was 
built in 1885. In the early part of the twentieth century Mt. Sinai 
became affiliated with the West Tennessee Missionary and Ed- 
ucational Association. The Reverend J. O. Melton served the 
congregation for nearly 40 years. Following a fire in 1983, the 
second sustained by this church, a new sanctuary was erected 
near the site of the former building. 

Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Somerville was organized in 
1867. The first pastor was the Reverend McMickely. Active in 
the organization was the Reverend Weaver. The first house of 
worship was a frame building located in the north section of 
town. Later a sanctuary was erected on East Street. One of the 
outstanding ministers of this church was the Reverend Carter. 
Deacons who served during his tenure were Walter Bond, Alvin 
Brown, Samuel Carpenter, George Dortch, Harpman Jameson, 
Lieutenant Malone, and Howard Walker. In 1971 the Reverend 
H. A. Powell became pastor of the church, now called "New Mt. 
Zion," and a new building was erected. 

Missionary Baptist churches in the southern part of the 
county include Mt. Vernon, Mt. Zion, St. Luke, and Thomas 
Chapel in the Rossville community, and Lagoshen Springhill, 
Liberty Branch, New Bethel, and St. Paul in the Moscow area. 

Church of God in Christ 

Dewitt Temple Church of God in Christ is located on the Old 
State Line Road between Moscow and Rossville. After the found- 
ing of C.O.G.I.C. in 1906 by Bishop C. H. Mason, a messenger 
named Isa Queen Barber came to Tennessee in 1912 to organize 
churches. Dewitt Temple then became a church. The mission- 
aries and elders first conducted meetings in homes, later moving 
into tents. F'inally in 1915, Jack Dewitt gave an acre of land on 
which members built a small frame church. Families who as- 

74 Toniessee County Histo-y Series 

sistcd in the construction included the Barbers, Dewitts, Lofties, 
and Randolphs. The first pastor was Bishop Roberts. Elders Rob 
McNeal and Neal Owens helped with the building and funding 
of Dewitt Temple. This church is the oldest of its denomination 
in this vicinity. 

'^Fayette Cares^' 

Sponsored by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, 
this is a local humanitarian agency devoted to meeting the needs 
of the county's impoverished citizens. Its Good Samaritan Shop 
is staffed by two Roman Catholic nuns and a crew of volunteers 
from Protestant churches throughout the county. On a regular 
basis, good used clothing is offered at nominal cost. Special as- 
sistance in the form of food and house furnishings is given to 
those whose homes have been destroyed by fire. At Christmas a 
toy store is available and hundreds of food baskets are distrib- 
uted to those qualilfied through the Department of Human 

During the emergency following the destructive tornado of 
January 1988 "Fayette Cares" ministered to victims who suffered 
personal injury or loss of homes by supplying clothing, food, 
household items, and temporary housing. 

Civil Rights Movement 

Black people have been a part of the history of Fayette 
County since the opening of the territory. This county always 
has been agricultural. Many of the early settlers who moved into 
the area brought with them black slaves to work on the planta- 
tions. The soil and climate were suitable for the cultivation of 
cotton, and the invention of the cotton gin about 30 years before 
the settlement of the county made this an even more attractive 
occupation. Many slaves were needed to run large plantations 
such as grew up in parts of the county. The 1830 census of Fay- 
ette County showed that there were 48 free blacks and 3193 
slaves out of a total population of 8652. By 1840 the black pop- 
ulation had surpassed that of the white; and by 1860 blacks out- 


numbered whites by a ratio of two to one. Approximately this 
same ratio has existed throughout the years until 1980, when 
the census showed an almost equal balance, 51% black and 49% 

With the ending of the Civil War, the slaves were free, but the 
economic situation for most of them was very poor. Some be- 
came land owners, but the majority became tenant farmers or 
hired laborers, in many cases working the same land they had 
formerly worked as slaves. Few jobs were open to blacks, and 
"Jim Crow" laws prevailed. A dual system of education was es- 
tablished. Many inequities existed. 

Although blacks were in the majority, they were not in a po- 
sition of leadership. With the exception of David Foote Rivers, 
who was elected to the Legislature in 1883, and Monroe Gooden, 
who served in the Legislature from 1887 to 1889, no blacks have 
represented Fayette County in the state government. One rea- 
son was that blacks were not registered to vote. 

This began to change in the 1960s with a series of events that 
directed the attention of the entire nation on Fayette County. 
The Fayette County Civic and Welfare League, organized in 
1959, filed suit in federal court against the local Democratic 
Party, charging that blacks who had registered to vote in June 
and July of 1959 had not been permitted to vote in the August 
primary that year. The two main objectives of the League were 
voter registration and racial integration of the public schools. 

Student groups from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, 
and Courtland College in Plainview, New York, came to assist 
the blacks in voter registration drives. Known as "Freedom Rid- 
ers," these northern student groups were especially resented by 
the white citizens. 

To counteract the activity of the League, White Citizen Coun- 
cils were formed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was 
brought in to investigate charges that black tenant farmers who 
made efforts to register had been evicted from their homes by 
white land owners, and that credit had been withheld. In a fed- 
eral suit against 45 landowners, 24 merchants, and 1 bank, the 
defendants were found guilty of violating civil rights of blacks 

76 Teiniessee County Histor-y Series 

and were permanently enjoined from "engaging in any acts 
which interfered with the rights of another to vote." 

A number of blacks who claimed to have been evicted from 
their homes moved into tents which had been erected on Macon 
Road about three miles from Somerville. This "tent city" at- 
tracted nationwide attention through the news media, and many 
people throughout the United States sent aid, channeled 
through the office of the Fayette County Civic and Welfare 
League. Later another "tent city"was established on the Moscow- 
LaGrange Road. 

As a result of voter registration activity, blacks were encour- 
aged to seek election to county offices. During the 1960 election, 
7 black magistrates were elected to the 37 member County 

The decade of the sixties and the early seventies witnessed a 
series of sit-ins, boycotts of white businesses by blacks, marches, 
and demonstrations. Tension between the races was at a high 

To implement school desegregation, a suit was filed in fed- 
eral court in 1965 against Fayette County Board of Education 
charging racial discrimination. Following this suit, the board 
adopted a plan of freedom of choice to integrate the schools, 
giving each student the privilege of choosing the school he 
would attend, regardless of race. This plan was not approved^by 
the court. The next plan adopted was the desegration of gi:ades 
one and eight in elementary schools and grades nine and twelve 
in the high schools. This occurred in the 1965-1966 school yfear. 
The following year all grades were desegregated, as were the 
faculties in all the schools. 

In September of 1969 black students from the forme^fFay- 
ette County Training School, which had recently been renamed 
W. R Ware High School, marched on Fayette County High 
School, the former all-white school. During the disturbances 
which occurred at that time, fire destroyed the building on the 
W R Ware campus that had previously housed students of the 
elementary grades. It was vacant at the time, the students having 


been transferred to the recently completed Central Elementary 
School two miles south, so no students were injured. 

Following these demonstrations, many white pupils with- 
drew from the public schools, giving as their reasons fear of bod- 
ily harm and lack of confidence in the quality of education. 

As a restilt of court orders, all schools were completely in- 
tegrated by 1970. The two high schools were combined under 
the name of Fayette-Ware High School. The ninth and tenth 
grades were housed on the South Campus, the W. P. Ware Cam- 
pus, and the eleventh and twelfth grades were at North Campus, 
the former Fayette County High School. The Board of Educa- 
tion was ordered to maintain a ratio of 60% black and 40% white 
in the faculties of each school in the system. 

Because of the large number of economically deprived and 
educationally disadvantaged pupils, the county became the re- 
cipient of federal funds for remedial programs. New well- 
equipped elementary schools were built, replacing the many 
one-room schoolhouses that had dotted the countryside. A new 
high school building was erected to replace the two former 
buildings. The former all-white Board of Education has three 
black members serving on it and the superintendent is black. All 
phases of the school system have been completely integrated. 


The first newspaper in the county was published in La- 
Grange, apparently in 1832. The editor in 1835 was Robert J. 
Yancey. According to a deed of 1836, the name of the paper was 
the Western Whig and LaGrange Herald. LaGrange later published 
two other papers, the LaGrange Monitor in the 1850s and the 
Spirit of the Age in 1871. 

Newspapers have been published in Somerville for over 150 
years. The town was a dozen years old when the first newspaper 
(a weekly) appeared on March 7, 1837. Named The Somerville 
Reporter, William Lewis was editor and publisher In December 
of 1837 he sold the paper to John Claiborne Reeves, who was 
editor and publisher until March 1844, when he sold an interest 

78 Tefuiessee Coimty History Series 

to Robert J. Yancey. The two men were partners until 1848 when 
Reeves sold his interest to Yancey. 

Yancey continued publishing the Reporter until 1856, when it 
was suspended. The publication next appeared as The Somerville 
Star in 1856. The next year The Somerville Democrat began pub- 
lishing. These papers were consolidated in 1859 and suspended 
in 1861, presumably at the outbreak of the Civil War 

In 1857 John C. Reeves, who had sold the Somerville Reporter 
in 1844, began publishing the Somerville Times. He suspended 
publication in 1861 because of the Civil War Samuel G. Sparks 
established The Somerville Falcon on October 27, 1866. In the 
early 1870s, Sparks formed a partnership with George H. 
Mathes. R. M. Sparks, a son, and James L. Sparks, a brother, 
w^ere both associated with the paper About 1879 Sparks sold the 
Falcon To Prof. W. H. Thar p. 

In 1880 Richard H. Yancey and Samuel Sparks began an- 
other Somerville paper named the Reporter. In March of 1881 
Yancey withdrew from the paper, and in 1883 Sparks bought the 
Falcon and consolidated the two papers. For a number of years 
the paper was published as The Reporter and Falcon; in 1888 the 
present title, The Fayette Falcon, was adopted. 

Early in the twentieth century the mastheads of available files 
list the Fayette Printing Company as publishers. D. K. Donnell, 
who was also superintendent of Fayette County schools, headed 
the list as editor Others in the firm were C. W Crawford, E. A. 
Maddox, and George P. Smith. In 1908 the Fayette Printing 
Company sold the Falcon to W T Loggins who was editor and 
publisher for 1 6 years. Duncan Anderson and Rufus Hardy, em- 
ployees of the paper, bought the Falcon from him in 1924. Later 
they sold it to Miss Eula Kestler, who after a short time sold it to 
J. B. Snider 

The paper was purchased by Roy C. Coleson in May of 193 1 . 
Coleson, assisted by his wife Mildred, was publisher and editor 
until October of 1959 at which time the business was incorpo- 
rated, with stockholders being Roy C. Coleson, Mildred W Cole- 
son, and Charles E. Taylor, an employee of the paper Since that 
time, the paper has been published by The Fayette Falcon, Inc. 


with Taylor as associate editor, managing editor, and later, editor 
Coleson died in 1965, and Mrs. Coleson retired in 1968. The 
paper is presently operated by Taylor, assisted by his wife, Sara- 
beth Kee Taylor, who is also a stockholder The staff photogra- 
pher is Arthur "Butch" Rhea. 

Another weekly newspaper began publication in Somerville 
in 1982. The paper, called The Fayette County Review, is published 
by Don Dowdle and has a wide circulation. 

A number of other papers have been published in Somerville 
over the years, most of them short-lived. They include The Som- 
erville Spy, published in 1845 by Samuel D. Bugg; The Fayette 
Courier, started in 1848 by Thompson and Nesbit; The Republic, 
started in 1861 and suspended in 1862; and The Somerville Jour- 
nal, pubUshed in 1897, 1898, and 1900 by Baird and Rooks. 

Participation in Wars 

Fayette Countians have served in all branches of the military. 
The heritage from a number of Revolutionary War veterans who 
settled in the new county may account for the patriotism exhib- 
ited in time of need. Among the known veterans of that War for 
Independence who later became residents of Fayette County 
were Jonas Belote, John Birdsong, Philip D. Burford, Philemon 
Holcombe, Hugh Luckey, and Elijah Lumsden. Also there were 
James McKee, Mark Miller, John Pickens, Henry Randolph, 
Benjamin Starrett, Charley Turner, Anthony Walke, and John 
Whitten. Descendants of other veterans of the Revolutionary 
War also made their way to Fayette County in later years. 

Men who subsequently were instrumental in the organiza- 
tion of Fayette County were active participants in the War of 
1812. Foremost among them was George Bowers, on whose land 
entry the town of Somerville was laid out. The town itself was 
named for Lieutenant Robert Somerville, who fell at the Battle 
of Tohopeka during the War of 1 8 1 2. Also active in this war was 
Major Joseph Coe, whose son John Green Coe fell in the mas- 
sacre at Goliad, Texas, on March 27,1 836, during the Texas fight 
for independence from Mexico. Another of Major Goes sons, 

80 Tennessee County History Series 

Levin Hudson Coe, fought in the Mexican War and attained the 
rank of general. 

The Mexican War, which broke out in 1846 just two decades 
after the organization of the county, was the first opportunity 
for Fayette Countians to show their colors in battle. It was, of 
course, in this war that Tennessee earned its nickname, the "Vol- 
unteer State. "Among the volunteers from Fayette were the men 
of the "Fayette Cavalry" under the leadership of Captain Joseph 
Lenow^ from Hickory Withe. That he was a popular leader 
among his men is evidenced by this article from the files of the 
MemphisDai^^iAj^/^m/ dated July 6, 1846: "Amember of his cav- 
alry company has written and dedicated to Capt. Lenow a song 
which the whole company now loves to sing around the campfire 
at Camp Carroll. Called the "War Song of the Fayette County 
Calvary [sic], it is sung to the tune of Old Dan Tucker" 

A September 15,1 846, issue of the same paper quotes a por- 
tion of a letter from Captain Lenow: 

We have received a fascinating letter from Captain Lenow, that 
dashing young officer of the Fayette County Cavalry which is 
marching overland with the Tennessee Cavalry to Mexico. "At 
Washington, Arkansas," he writes, "we started a society named the 
Legion of Honor, with a pledge upon each other to neither touch 
nor handle any intoxicating drinks until we return to Memphis. 
It is a great thing, and nearly half of my company belongs to it. 
All my Fayette boys went in. Mexico is a chance and our flag will 
wave proudly over us. You may repeat to the ladies that our flag 
will never be dishonored and that wherever it floats there will be 
victory and honor for those who tread beneath its folds." 

The work of the unit under Captain Lenow was apparently 
limited to guard duty. The regiment suffered little loss. 

The Civil War 

Though the loss of life during the Mexican War was slight, 
just the opposite proved true in the Civil War At the outbreak 
of hostilities in 1861, the sympathies of Fayette Countians lay 
almost entirely with the Confederacy. By the time the Legisla- 


ture had voted on May 6, 1861, to secede from the Union, men 
and boys from Fayette County were aheady entering the service. 

The Fayette County supplement of Coodspeed's HisUny of 
Tennessee (1887) carries a list of officers of various battalions or- 
ganized in the county. According to this account, the first or- 
ganized body from Fayette was Company A of the Sixth 
Regiment, known as "Somerville Avengers." They organized in 
April and elected W. M. R.Johns, Captain; J. W. Burton, First 
Lieutenant; R. C. Williams, Second Lieutenant; and A. N. 
Thomas, Third Lieutenant. 

Among the troops of the Thirteenth regiment were Com- 
pany A, "Fayette Rifles, "under W. C. Burton, Captain, and Com- 
pany E, "Dixie Rifles," under Captain Andrew Jefferson 
Vaughan. Enthusiasm for the "Cause" was high, and in many in- 
stances the men were given a hearty send-off with a flag made 
by the ladies of their community. One such happening is de- 
scribed by Captain Vaughan in his memoirs: 

This incident occurred just as the Dixie Rifles were on the eve of 
leaving home to go into the army, and were swallowed up in the 
vortex of the terrible war we thought then to be of short duration. 
I think to mention it now, for its blending of the beautiful and 
ludicrous will bring it back to the minds of the survivors and their 
descendants of Company E of the old Thirteenth Regiment. 

On a glorious June morning, with just that buoyancy in the air 
that makes mere existence a pleasure, the company assembled in 
the little village of Moscow, Fayette County, to receive a most beau- 
tiful and elegant Confederate flag that the ladies of the village had 
made for the company. The then Miss Fannie Steger (now Mrs. 
R. L. Knox of Memphis) had been selected to make the presen- 
tation of the colors. I do not know if she will thank me now for 
attempting to bring back the speech that she, a winsome and lovely 
young lady, made to us on that morning. Of course I cannot recall 
all that she said, but I can remember enough to know that it 
sounded like the blast of a bugle, like the playing of exquisite mu- 
sic, and inspired every member of the company with intenser pa- 
triotism and with profound admiration for the fair speaker. 
Feeling myself (then as now) utterly incapableof making a speech, 
I called on a younger member of the company to receive the flag 

82 Toiuessee County Histoiy Series 

from the fair hands of those who had woven it. He stepped to the 
platform with every appearance of self-confidence, but to his sur- 
prise and that of all the rest of us, he found himself overcome with 
embarrassment. Blushing, stuttering, and stammering, he began 
with, "Ladies and gentlemen, we accept, "and then he broke down. 
After swallowing a glass or two of water, he began again, "Ladies 
and gentlemen, we accept," and still stammering and stuttering, 
he took more w ater This occurred a third time, when one of the 

boys called out from the rear, D it, say to her. We accept the 

flag and will follow it to h 1 or to victory!" Amid yells of ap- 
plause the young man reached for the flag and sat down. This flag 
w as kept throughout the war, and today, thirty-two years since the 
struggle ended, it is carefully preserved by my friend, Dr T B. 
Yancey of Somerville, Tennessee. 

The days that followed were not so joyous, however. An ex- 
cerpt from a diary kept between May 1861 and May 1863 by 
William John Rodgers, a member of Vaughan's company, reveals 
some of the hardships and deprivations endured. Rodgers, a 
volunteer from Moscow, was 22 years old when he joined Com- 
pany E of the Thirteenth Regiment. On May 28 he wrote of the 
arrival of the "Somerville Company," and the foflowing day he 
recorded the formation of the regiment, consisting of eight com- 
panies, and the arrival of uniforms. On August 23, while at New 
Madrid, he wrote, "Cold morning. Out of provisions. No bread, 
boys cursing. The alarm was given while we was eating dinner. 
We formed a line for battle. We was ordered out on picket, one 
quarter mile from camp. Reported that the enemy had taken our 
baggage and would attack us. All proved to be false. Our com- 
pany out of meat." 

Rodgers' company participated in the battles at Murfrees- 
boro, and on December 31, 1862, he made this entry: "Our bri- 
gade went in early and fought all day. Col. W E.. Morgan 
wounded and Major Cole killed. William Green from our com- 
pany was killed. I was busy carrying off wounded all day. 
Dreamed of seeing my sweetheart on the battlefield," 

By tl;e following December, activity had definitely come to 
Fayette County. Although there were no major battles fought in 


the county, a number of skirmishes occurred. LaGrange was oc- 
cupied by Federal troops in 1862, and from that time on until 
the end of the war, the town was held by enemy forces. 

The Memphis and Charleston Railroad, which ran throtigh 
the southern part of the county, was an important route for 
transportation of troops and stipplies. After West Tennessee fell 
into the hands of the Federals, efforts were made to halt the use 
of this route by destroying tracks and bridges all along the line 
of the railroad. 

One skirmish occurred at Moscow on December 4, 1863, 
when a group of Confederate cavalry under Gen. Stephen D. 
Lee engaged the enemy at the Wolf River bridge on the western 
edge of town. The chief purpose of the encounter was to assist 
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest in crossing back into West Ten- 
nessee from Mississippi. The plan was to burn the railroad 
bridge, do as much damage as possible to the railroad, and de- 
stroy the "fort" at Moscow where black troops were garrisoned. 
This so-called fort was a brick structure on a hill overlooking the 
railroad bridge over Wolf River. The black troops stationed there 
received special commendation from the Union officer, Gen. 
S. A. Hurlburt, who wrote in his dispatch of December 17, 1863: 
"The recent affair at Moscow, Tennessee, has demonstrated the 
fact that colored troops, properly disciplined and commanded, 
can and will fight well." The Confederate troops were unsuc- 
cessful in accomplishing their specific goals, but did assist For- 
rest to cross lines into West Tennessee. 

As Forrest completed his tour of recruitment in West Ten- 
nessee and started his return into northern Mississippi Fayette 
was again the scene of skirmishes, one of which occurred about 
five miles from Somerville in action referred to as the "Battle of 
the Cornstalks. "Abody of 60 Confederate soldiers under Lt. Na- 
than Boone swept across a frosty corn field with stich noise and 
speed that they sounded like a huge company. Thinking them- 
selves to be outnumbered, the Union regiment under Colonel 
Prince was completely routed. 

At this time, all the bridges across Wolf River between 
LaGrange and Memphis had been burned except the one at 

84 Toiuessee Comity History Series 

LaFavette Station (Rossville). It was there that Forrest chose to 
cross the river on the following day. In a skirmish, Forrest suc- 
ceeded in getting his troops across the bridge and on into 

This was a particularly stressful time for all the people of the 
county. Excerpts from the diary of Miss Hattie Fraser, a young 
ladv who lived near Somerville, reveal the terror experienced by 
many people. On January 3, 1863, she wrote: 

A day ever to be remembered by the citizens of Somerville! On 
arising this morning we found the town thronged with Kansas Jay 
Hawkers. Ma's chamber was entered by the vile wretches before 
we were dressed and they demanded a light to search the house. 
Every gun and pistol taken from us. Three mules and a horse sto- 
len. . . . Nearly every house in town was pillaged, silverware and 
many valuables taken, men and Negroes robbed of all their money 
and watches. Store broken open. That which was not stolen was 
destroyed. Some men had every rag of clothing taken from them. 
Hats, shells, and boots were taken from men and Negroes in the 
streets, and rings from little children. Most of them got drunk and 
had a fight among themselves, in which five were killed and 
wounded. Three of the wounded were left here. At three o'clock. 
Thank God! they left, but we sat up all night, thinking they had 
returned and expecting to be robbed or killed. The patter of 
hooves and clashing of sabers proved to be [Brig. Gen. Robert V.] 
Richardson's men in pursuit of the Jay Hawkers, but they were a 
little late to catch the band of thieves. 

Three other entries reveal similar conditions. 

March 9, 1863. We were all suddenly aroused from our slum- 
bers at 4 o'clock this morning by the passing of two or three thou- 
sand Yankee cavalrymen. It is thought they were after Richardson. 
I hope Gen. Richardson will have the pleasure of meeting with 
them and give them a warmer reception than they anticipate. 

December 24, 1863. Friday (Christmas Eve) — Eddie started to 
Somerville but returned in haste as he heard on the road that the 
Yankees were again in Somerville. They were whipped today at 
Esternollv [Estenaula on the Hatchie River near Bolivar] by 

December 26, 1863. Before breakfast this morning, the battle 


commenced on the Bolivar Road between (ien. Richardson and 
the Yankee forces that were in Somerville. We could hear fire of 
every gun distinctlv, as it was only two miles from Wills. The firing 
ceased about 1 1 o'clock. About 30 of Forrest's men with artillery 
passed almost in sight of the house. Our boys thrashed them all. 
The Yanks ran in every direction. There were five killed and thirty 
prisoners taken. Four of our men were killed. It rained all the 

General Richardson and his command were also the first to 
engage the enemy on the afternoon of Christmas Day 1863 
about four miles from Newcastle in the vicinity of Somerville. 
Miss Fraser would have been particularly excited over the ex- 
ploits of Richardson, for he was sort of a local hero. His home, 
Willow Brook, where he lived with his wife Mary Avent, was lo- 
cated in the eastern part of Fayette County. 

The fears expressed by Miss Fraser in her diary pervaded 
the entire area. Early in 1864, the town of Moscow was burned, 
only two houses left standing. 

Although no major battles were fought on Fayette County 
soil, many of its sons fought valiantly in some of the fiercest bat- 
tles of the war, many giving their lives for the cause. Among those 
who made the supreme sacrifice were two brothers, William H. 
Burnette, who fell at the Battle of Belmont, and Joseph L. Bur- 
nette, a member of Company H, 14th Regiment, Tennessee Cav- 
alry, who was drowned while crossing Hatchie Creek. Others 
who lost their lives were Captain John W. Mebane and Sidney 
W Hall, both of whom fell at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain; 
Matthew Newby and Wales E. Newby, who fell at the Battle of 
Belmont; Charles W Humphreys, Charles Watts, and Charles 
Whotmore, who died at Shiloh; Capt. B. H. Holland, whose life 
was lost at Murfreesboro. Over a hundred casualties were 
counted in the county. 

Of the survivors, most returned to their homes to try to pick 
up the pieces of their way of life. Many returned to farming, but 
without the help of slaves, and in many cases, without livestock. 
Professional men resumed their practice. Dr. J. S. Washington, 
a Confederate surgeon, practiced medicine in Somerville for a 

86 Tonicssee County History Series 

niiniber of years after the war Dr Thomas Bragg Yancey, who 
spent four years in active military service, was a dentist who 
served as mayor of Somerville during the yellow fever epidemic 
of 1878. In 19 10 he became the president of the newly organized 
Somerville Bank and Trust Company. 

The Twentieth Century 

When the call came in 1917 to "Make the world safe for de- 
mocracy," young men from all across the county responded. 
Many made the supreme sacrifice. Some, like Dr John W. Morris 
of Somerville, spent time as prisoners of war Dr Morris served 
as an officer of the Scottish Black Watch Regiment, entering even 
before the United States became actively involved in the war He 
recalled that he had to pay $15 in London to get his passport 
approved so that he could go to France andjoin the famous regi- 
ment which took severe casualties in some of the heaviest fight- 
ing of the war Dr. Morris'unit was surrounded during a German 
offensive and he was captured. He spent eight months as a war 
prisoner, treating wounded and sick soldiers and civilians in Bel- 
gium and Germany. Following the signing of the armistice, he 
returned to Somerville and became a leading physician, estab- 
lishing his own clinic. He also became very active in business and 
political circles in the county. He celebrated his 100th birthday 
on January 1, 1986, still active in many pursuits. He died shortly 

Many others from the county were members of the Allied 
Expeditionary Forces. Duncan D. Parsons of Somerville recalls 
vividly some of his experiences while serving overseas. He was 
among 28 men from Fayette County inducted into the army on 
September 17, 1917, at Camp Gordon. Shortly thereafter five 
of the Fayette Countians were sent to Camp Jackson for basic 
training. They were Duncan Parsons and Jesse Parks of District 
18, William C. Crawford of Williston, and Joe Fortune and his 
brother of Moscow. 

They shipped out for Europe on July 1, 1918. Pvt. Parsons 
served in Company F, 81st Division of the 323rd Infantry. He 
said he thought he was being selected for the band, but he was 


given a bugle, an instrument on which he had had no training, 
and was told to "play it." So he became a bugler. 

A week after their arrival in England, they crossed the Chan- 
nel to Bult, France. Their hrst action was in the Vosges Moun- 
tains. The men were in trenches, and it was excruciatingly cold. 
The flu epidemic raged, and many had to be sent to the hospital; 
a number of them died. 

It was thought that the Germans had evacuated their terri- 
tory in those mountains, and Parsons was part of a five-man pa- 
trol headed by 1st Lt. W. N. Keller to ascertain the German 
position. Sliding rocks from the moimtain and barbed wire too 
thick for their wire cutters impeded their progress. 

Parsons recalled: 

It became necessary to enter the German trenches from the front 
rather than the rear. We made our way into their trenches, where 
we could hear German spoken, and cut their phone lines, suc- 
cessfully destroying their communications. Because it was night 
and we had changed position several times, some of our men be- 
came disoriented and headed back toward enemy lines, entering 
their lines. I was ordered to retrieve them, which I did, while the 
lieutenant held off the enemy. After guiding the patrol down the 
mountainside, I returned for the lieutenant. Our mission was 
safely completed. 

Their next scene of activity was at St. Mihiel, where Allied 
troops defeated the Germans in one of the largest battles of the 
war. He said there had been no time to bury the dead, and a 
terrible odor filled the air. 

They then moved on to the site of the last batUe of the war. 
On November 1 1 , word was passed down the trenches where he 
was that the armistice was to be signed at 1 1 a.m. In the mean- 
time, fighting continued, and two men in his company were 
killed, thinking the war was over. 

Parsons continued: 

At 11:11 the fighting did cease. Everyone sat down, took off their 
packs, and no one spoke. No one believed it. We were stunned. 

The picture changed completely. The big brass called us in and 
announced, "Boys, the war is over. We are gonna be home by 

88 Tennessee County History Series 

Christmas." There was one large problem. We had no transpor- 
tation. We would have to walk. 

And walk we did for 150 miles before we were transported. My 
division spent the winter in a small French village where we were 
able to observe the lifestyle of the French peasants. They were very 

Accommodations in barns along the way had been made for 
us where we slept on bags stuffed with straw. Cooties from these 
bags covered us. The ingenuity of the American soldier outwitted 
these pests in the following way: we bathed whenever possible and 
washed our clothes. The cooties jumped from our bodies to the 
clean clothes which we took off and washed again, ridding our- 
selves temporarily of these pests. 

As we hiked, we sang "Oh, How I Witch Again I was in Mit- 
chigan," "How You Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm?," 
"Glory, Glory Hallelujah," and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." 

Perhaps it should be noted here that Duncan Parsons has a 
beautiful singing voice and at the age of 92 is still an active mem- 
ber of his church choir, recently featured in special quartets. 

Instead of spending Christmas at home as they had hoped, 
the men spent their holiday at a French resort, Aix-les-Baines. 
In April they were housed in an abandoned hospital, where for 
a change they could sleep on a cot instead of on the ground. 

Parsons had several assignments as a bugler. One was to play 
taps for a famous warrior, though he was not told who it was. He 
said several thousand soldiers stood at attention as he walked 
through them up to the casket and sounded taps. "It was no time 
for mistakes," he said, "and I did not make one." Shortly there- 
after he was sent to play for "Old Black Jack" Pershing himself. 
As he relates it, "I was taken to Division Headquarters where I 
was told I would see stars, which I did. Not just the stars on the 
general's shoulders but on all the cars, trucks, and tanks in his 
entourage. I blew the call for Pershing to stop at the gate, then 
I blew several more calls, and finally the call for him to move 

Before sailing for the states. Parsons and two of his buddies 
were given permission to go to Paris, where they visited Ver- 


sailles, the Eiffel Tower, and other points of interest. But the best 
sight of all was his home in Fayette County when he finally re- 
ceived his discharge. 

Nearly one thousand Fayette Countians were inducted into 
the service during World War I, 34 of whom lost their lives. 

Several local men have been graduates of West Point and 
have made a career in the military. Brigadier General William 
H. Hobson, a native of Somerville who graduated from the 
United States Military Academy in 1912, had a long and distin- 
guished military career During World War I, he served as Major 
in the 31st Infantry. His last post before retirement was Com- 
manding General of Fort Benning. Colonel Julius B. Summers 
and Colonel Weber Ivy both serve in the Air Force. Navy Captain 
John Wmfrey and Colonel Will Rhea Winfrey are two brothers 
who have had careers in the military. 

The outbreak of World War II was the signal for every able- 
bodied man (and many women) of military age to support the 
war effort. There was hardly a family in the county without one 
or more members actively involved. Three of Fayette's sons were 
awarded the Silver Star for heroism: Lawrence Middlecoff, Ju- 
lius Summers, and John McNeill. Stories of heroism could be 
told and retold by many of those in service. R. H. PuUiam, Jr., 
of Rossville, who suffered a broken leg when he was shot down 
over Germany, spent 13 months in a prisoner of war camp in 
Poland before being liberated. John J. Matheson of Williston was 
also a prisoner of war for several months. Virginia Morton of 
Moscow, who saw service in Australia, the Philippines, and Oki- 
nawa, spent five years in the Army Nurse corps. Local service- 
men took part in battles on both fronts. Many returned home 
permanently scarred and crippled; 37 did not return at all. 

Recreational Activities 

Entertainment in the form of parties, dances, and the like 
was much a part of the life of the people. Many homes were 
thrown open for festivities, such as the ball which took place at 
Frogmore in the 1880s. At the time of the ball, reported in the 

90 Teiniessee County History Series 

following item from the Somewille Reporter, it was the home of 
Mr. and Mrs. John Wiley Shaw, she being the former Elizabeth 
Higgason, daughter of the builder. 

The ball at the residence of Mr. J. W. Shaw on the evening of the 
27th was a fitting close to the summer gaities. The spacious rooms 
were filled with grace, beauty, and gallantry of the town and sur- 
rounding country. Among the charming faces and toilets of the 
ladies we noted the following: Mrs. J. W. Shaw's magnificent cos- 
tume of violet velvet and heliotrope satin with amethyst jewelry; 
Mrs. Dr Harris' nut-brown silk and Brussels lace; Miss Feddie 
Shaw, black satin and lace, onyx and pearls; Miss Mosby of Lu- 
cerne, white satin and pearls. 

"The gentlemen were all in regulation dress coat and white tie, 
and looked and danced their best. Memphis was represented by 
Mr Walter Farabee and Will Brooks. In the ballroom, light feet 
chased the winged hours away and eyes looked love to eyes that 
spoke again. It was not until a late hour that the "Home" waltz was 
played and the curtain fell on the brilliant panorama of summer 

Frogmore is still the scene of parties each Christmas night 
and also on the Fourth of July, when Open House is held by the 
current residents of this ancestral home, Polly and Lucy Ann 
Claxton, great-granddaughters of Dr. Higgason. 

Less pretentious affairs were held in smaller homes through- 
out the county. Some took the form of box suppers or pound 
parties, where the guests shared in providing the refreshments. 
Music supplied by a fiddler would soon have the dancers 

Popular lawn games included croquet and tennis. Many 
homes had their croquet sets, and in each of the towns there was 
at least one home tennis court where the young set gathered for 
games. Most of the games, dances, and parties were centered in 
the homes. 

Before the days of water pollution, swimming was available 
in all the creeks, rivers, ponds, and streams. The southern part 
of the county enjoyed the water of Wolf River, there being ex- 
cellent swimming spots at LaGrange, Moscow, and Rossville. 



Harness racing in Fayette County. 

However, as the fields along the banks of the river were plowed, 
erosion took place and the water became polluted, thereby caus- 
ing most of the "swimmin' holes" to be abandoned in favor of 

Circuses and traveling shows brought entertainment to this 
rural county before the day when paved roads gave easy access 
to the theaters of Memphis. The day when the circus came to 
town was a great time for the children. The big top was pitched 
and the animals were put through their acts. Among the last of 
the traveling shows and certainly one of the most popular was 
the troupe known as the Bisbee Comedians. Each fall during the 
1920s and 1930s this group spent a week in Somerville followed 
by a week in Moscow. Under the big tent, the actors thrilled their 
audiences with slapstick comedy and melodrama. 

Lovers of animals took part in horse shows, either as partici- 
pants or as spectators. Harness racing and horse racing were 
popular sports in earlier days. One of the outstanding race- 
horses of the country, "Minor Heir," spent his last days on the 

92 Tennessee County Hiskny Series 

tarni ot W. C. Crawford in Williston. More recently, shows fea- 
turing Tennessee Walking Horses have been enjoyed by enthu- 
siastic followers. 

Community-wide activities brought people together for en- 
tertainment and for progress. Beginning in 1887, an annual 
comity fair was held for a number of years. Another hugely pop- 
ular yearly event was the "Rossville Picnic." Begun in 1896 with 
a barbecue on R. B. Hebbut's land by the Methodist Sunday 
Schools of Rossville, New Bethel, Bethlehem, Good Springs, and 
Moscow % it quickly expanded and became an all-day event, draw- 
ing people from a wide area. The Sunday School picnic was soon 
overshadowed by another all-day event on grounds just north 
of the railroad. This "Rossville Picnic" was better known for the 
big dance that climaxed the activities of the evening. On a tar- 
paulin stretched over the hard ground of the picnic area, dan- 
cers of all ages swayed to the music of a country band until the 
wee small hours of the night. Hundreds of people were attracted 
to the town on the second Thursday of July each year. 

In recent years the county has promoted an annual "Egg Fes- 
tival" in Somerville in recognition of the fact that Fayette County 
is the egg capital of Tennessee. Another recent annual event is 
the Moscow Summer Games. In 1980, when the United States 
boycotted the Olympic Games held in Moscow, Russia, the 
mayor of Moscow, Tennessee, facetiously offered to host the 
games. With tongue in cheek, such "Olympic Games" as horse- 
shoe pitching, skillet throwing, and tobacco spitting were sched- 
uled. The idea caught on, and worldwide attention was focused 
for a few days on the little Fayette County town of Moscow. Since 
that auspicious beginning, it has become an annual affair. 

Fishing and hunting were important to the lives of the first 
settlers, and they still occupy a large part of the recreational time 
of the people. Deer, rabbit, and quail are hunted for sport and 
for food. The Chickasaw Bow Hunters Club was located near 
Moscow. An active fox hunt club, "Longreen," has been estab- 
lished near Rossville for many years. "Golden Creek Hunt Club" 
on the western edge of Moscow is a desirable place to enjoy a 
day of quail hunting. 


An outstanding exponent of the art ot hunting and one 
whose prowess with gun and rifle made him world famous was 
Herb Parsons. Born on May 5, 1908, Joel Herbert "Herb" Par- 
sons, son of Mr. and Mrs. James L. Parsons of Somerville, began 
his love affair with the sport at the tender age of seven when he 
killed his first quail. Herb went on to earn the title of World 
Champion Exhibition Shooter of Winchester Rifles and Shot- 
guns. During his association with the Wmchester Company as an 
exhibition shooter, he also entertained audiences with his rapid- 
fire chatter. So much in demand were his exhibitions that Wm- 
chester had to book them three years in advance. He became 
friends with movie stars of that era, shooting trap with Clark 
Gable and Roy Rogers, and doing the trick shooting for Win- 
chester 73 starring Jimmy Stewart. In 1956 the movie Shoivman 
Shooter featured Parsons' excellent gun handling and delightful 
narratives. During World War U, he performed 238 exhibitions 
at various military installations. Parsons died July 19, 1959. A 
trophy room in the Somerville home of his widow, Oneita Mont- 
gomery Parsons, holds many mementoes of his exceptional ca- 
reer. He was honored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources 
Agency in 1964 when Fisherville Lake in southwest Fayette 
County was renamed Herb Parsons Lake. 

The best known sports event of the county is the National 
Championship Field Trials for bird dogs held each February on 
the Ames Plantation in the southeastern part of the county. To 
this event come owners of bird dogs from all over the United 
States. Only those dogs which have won other specified field 
trials are eligible for this competition for the national title. Ap- 
proximately 30 to 35 dogs are entered each year. Drawings are 
held to determine their places on the schedule. Two dogs run 
each morning and two each afternoon. Three judges determine 
the winner. A gallery of from 100 to nearly 1000 follow on horse- 
back to see champion dogs at work. 

The Ames Plantation, compromising 18,700 acres, was 
owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hobart Ames of Boston, who formerly 
spent about four months there during the winter They bought 
the house and 400 acres of land in 1901 , adding to the property 


Tctn lessee Coioity Hist on Series 


Riders at Ames Plantation National Bird Dog Field Trials. 
Courtesy of The Fayette County Review 

as adjacent plots became available. The first championship field 
trial was held there in 1903 and has been held annually since. 
Mr. Ames died in 1945 and Mrs. Ames in 1950. According to her 
will, the Ames Plantation is to be used for the annual competition 
to select the national champion bird dog, and to provide re- 
sources for educational and research activities of the University 
of Tennessee College of Agriculture. 

Fraternal Bodies, Service Clubs and Social Organizations 

Among the clubs and organizations of the county, the Ma- 
sons have the longest and most impressive history. The history 
of the Masonic Order in Fayette County goes back to November 
1 1, 1825, when a dispensation was granted by the Grand Lodge 
of Tennessee to LaFayette Lodge No. 26. The dispensation was 
returned on October 1, 1827, and no charter was issued. The 
next record of Masonic activity occurred when a dispensation 
was granted to LaGrange Lodge No. 70 in March 1828. No re- 
cord of this lodge appeared after 1830. 

The oldest lodge in the county is Somerville Lodge No. 73, 
chartered on October 9, 1829, having been granted a dispen- 


sation on October 8, 1828. The officers were Richard Cleere, 
Worshipful Master; W. S. Gray, Senior Warden; M. Lynch, Jun- 
ior Warden; and Dr Josiah Higgason, Secretary. 

The only other lodge in the county is A. V. Warr Lodge No. 
120 at Moscow. Chartered in 1849, it began as Macon Lodge No. 
120. Later it was moved to Rossville. The name was changed to 
A. V. Warr Lodge in honor of the Rossville physician who had 
served in 1877 as Grand Worshipful Master of Tennessee. In 
1962 the lodge moved to Moscow. A number of other Masonic 
lodges, now disbanded, have been active in the county at various 

Fayette Chapter No. 240, Order of Eastern Star, auxiliary to 
Somerville Masonic Lodge, was chartered January 31, 1923. 
The Eastern Star chapter associated with A. V. Warr Lodge was 
organized as Macon Chapter No. 277 onjune 3, 1942. The name 
was changed to Rossville Chapter in 1951 and surrendered its 
charter in 1982. 

The local lodge of Loyal Order of Moose was organized on 
March 9, 1969. It owns and maintains a lodge on Griffin Store 

The Somerville Lions Club was organized in 1944. Clifford 
D. Pierce, a Memphis attorney who was a native of Fayette 
County, was a major sponsor of the Somerville organization. He 
later became president of Lions International. W B. Wilkinson 
served as the first president of the Somerville Lions Club. He 
was followed by I. R Yancey, who later became District Governor 
The local club lends its support to the continuing project of 
Lions Clubs in sight conservation, as well as to other civic and 
philanthropic projects. 

The Somerville Rotary Club was organized on May 28, 1976. 
James Wilder, a local attorney, was the first president. The club 
has been involved in a number of philanthropic endeavors. It 
has actively sponsored the local Boy Scout troop, providing fi- 
nancial aid as well as personnel in leadership positions. 

Ruritan clubs were formed in Moscow and Rossville in 1971, 
the same year that saw organization of units of Jaycees and Jay- 
cettes in Somerville. 

96 Tennessee County History Series 

The oldest of the women s clubs is the Craddock Book Club. 
It was organized in November 1893 and is affiliated with the 
Tennessee Federation of Women's Clubs. The first officers were 
Mrs. H. P. Hobson, president; Mrs. John A. Winfrey, vice-pres- 
ident; and Miss Amelia Hobson, secretary-treasurer One of the 
outstanding accomplishments of this club was the sponsoring 
and setting up a small library which has developed into the Fay- 
ette County Free Library. 

The Garden and Arts Club was organized on April 1, 1949. 
Mrs. Fred T Fowler was founder and first president of the club. 
It is affiliated with the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs. 
The club has been active in beautifying and landscaping public 
buildings in the county as well as certain roadside areas. 

Mrs. Fowler also organized the Junior Garden and Arts Club 
in November 1952. When the members outgrew their junior 
status, the name was changed to Somerville Woman's Club. 

Rossville Garden Club was founded on January 12, 1970. 
Mrs. M. L. Baker, the first president, was succeeded by Mrs. 
Knox Morrison. 

The Fayette County Business and Professional Women's 
Club, which is affiliated with state and national B&PW clubs, was 
chartered on April 22, 1974. Mrs. Inez Davis was the first pres- 
ident of the club. 

Towns and Villages 

Braden lies in the northwest corner of the county, at the junc- 
tion of Highways 59 and 70. It had its beginning in a settlement 
called Concordia, about a mile west of the present site of Braden. 
An early settler was Peru Benson. 

Concordia was a flourishing village in 1836. It was the voting 
place for the citizens of Civil District 6, and all politicians of the 
day made their speeches at Concordia. A Methodist church had 
been erected, as well as three stores, a school building, and an 
inn. The inn was well known to travelers in early West Tennessee, 
being a stop on the stage road from Somerville to Randolph in 



C. T McCraw store, Braden. 

Tipton County. There was a post office from 1 837 to 1 856; Asher 
Branch was the first postmaster. Mail was brought from Somer- 
ville by stagecoach. The school was Concordia Academy, which 
was deeded by Peru Benson to the school trustees: John R. Beas- 
ley, Joseph P. Braden, Richard T. Brodnax, Ridley Clifton, J. H. 
McCraw, and William A. Verser. But Concordia's "day in the sun" 
was soon to end, as two settlements grew up along the railroad 
that was being constructed in this area. 

Braden came into existence in 1850 when the Louisville and 
Nashville Railroad was laying its roadbed into Memphis. Joseph 
P. Braden donated land for the right-of-way, and Concordia was 
left by the wayside. Braden became the new town site. By 1869 
there was a post office at Braden Station; Christian Hassler was 
the first postmaster. In 1882 "Station" was dropped from the 
town's name. 

Present-day Braden is closely identified with the McCraw 
family. Five members of this family came to Braden before the 
turn of the century. This group included (Charles Thomas 
McCraw and James Witt McCraw, brothers; their sister, Mrs. ivy- 

98 Tennessee County Histoy Series 

son Wright; an uncle, Daniel Witt McCraw; and an aunt, Lavinia 
Harrison McCra\v. 

The most prominent building in the town is the store owned 
and operated by C. T. McCraw Sc Company. Built in 1909 it not 
only offers a wide variety of merchandise for sale, but also 
houses the town's post office. Across the road from the store is 
a modern electric gin, also a part of the C. T. McCraw 8c Co. 
enterprise. Not far away is the stately two-story southern colonial 
home built by Charles Thomas McCraw in 1908. 

The town was incorporated in 1970. Commissioners elected 
were Wmston Davis, Joel McCraw, and John C. Rice. 

In 1978 a large educational complex was constructed on the 
north side of Highway 70 to replace Braden Elementary School. 
This facility, Northwest School, serves elementary pupils from 
several smaller schools in nearby communities. 


Gallaway shares with Braden its origin in the community of 
Concordia. By 1856, after the building of the railroad, two com- 
munities had grown up alongside the tracks. The more westerly 
one took the name of Gallaway in recognition of Thomas Gal- 
laway, the first person of that name to live in the county. He mi- 
grated from North Carolina prior to 1850. 

The first dwelling was erected in 1856 by James C. Hollo- 
man. The first grocery was built by Norflet W Gallaway, also in 
1856, and the first dry goods store was opened in 1858. The post 
office was established on November 28, 1856, and Thomas D. 
Jackson was appointed postmaster Because of an error in spell- 
ing, the name originally appeared in the lists of post offices as 
"Galway", but was corrected in 1887. 

By 1866 businesses operating in the village were Herron and 
Bro., grocery and dry goods; Hams and Steinberger, dry goods; 
R. W Ing, grocer; J. Munn, tanner; and Ira Thomas, blacksmith. 
J. B. Stanley was the constable. 

The village was incorporated in 1869. Alexander Loving was 
elected the first mayor, followed by C. S. Edwards. 

The first church in Gallaway was a Cumberland Presbyterian 


Church whose pastor was Reverend Samuel A. Burkhart. He 
was also the first teacher, holding classes in the church building. 

For nearly 70 years, Gallaway thrived on its cotton-based 
economy. In the second quarter of the twentieth century its for- 
tunes began to decline. The school closed and the pupils were 
transported to Braden, the gin was relocated, and the depot of 
the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was closed. It appeared 
that the demise of the town was near, its charter of incorporation 
having been dropped some years earlier 

However, a new day began to dawn in 1966 when a group of 
ambitious citizens led a movement to reincorporate Gallaway. A 
three-member council was elected, and they chose Layton Wat- 
son to be mayor. Under the leadership of Mayor Watson and the 
members of the council, federal grants were secured for civic 
improvement. Among the projects completed were paved 
streets, sidewalks, water and sewage systems, street lights, and 
an industrial park. Six industries have located in Gallaway, em- 
ploying aproximately 400 workers. 

The village has recently enlarged its corporate limits. It is 
now the second largest town in the county, exceeded only by the 
county seat of Somerville. 

LaG range 

One of the most important of the early towns was LaGrange. 
The fourth post office in the county was established there on 
February 7, 1828, with Amos David as the first postmaster. The 
date for incorporation is usually given as January 5, 1836; how- 
ever, an "Act to Incorporate the Town of LaGrange" was passed 
by the General Assembly on December 1, 1829. It reads as fol- 
lows: "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ten- 
nessee that F. Titus, John H. Ross. A. S. Edmondson, B. Harper, 
William Harper, William B. Merryman, and Peachy Franklin are 
hereby declared to be a body politic and corporate for the town 
of LaGrange in the county of Fayette and shall be known by the 
style and description of the mayor and board of alderman of the 
town of LaGrange." It is signed by Ephraim H. Poster, Speaker 

100 Tejuiessce County History Series 

ot the House ot Representatives, and Joel Walker, Speaker of the 

Located on a high bluff overlooking Wolf River, LaGrangc 
was well situated for growth. It had previously been an Indian 
trading post called "Cluster of Pines, "and traffic with the Indians 
of northern Mississippi and West Tennessee was common among 
the settlers. In a letter bearing the postmark LaGrange and 
dated October 1 1, 1835, James Gilmer wrote to his fiancee, Ella 
Commegys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: "A great many Indi- 
ans come daily to LaGrange, dressed in their native costumes, 
and make a novel and good appearance, but which is of course 
of so common everyday occurrence as to have lost all interest to 
the inhabitants. "This situation was soon to end, however, for the 
Indians were moved soon after this date to reservations in the 
western part of the country. 

The town of LaGrange, often referred to as "La Belle Vil- 
lage," took its name from the ancestral home in France of the 
Marquis de la Fayette, for whom the county is named. From the 
beginning it attracted men of wealth, culture, and influence. 
Samuel Harper, Fayette's first sheriff, laid off the land into town 
lots in 1825, using Philadelphia as a pattern and calling for 
streets to be lined with locust, elm, and mulberry trees. Many 
antebellum homes remain to attest to the importance of the vil- 
lage in the years preceding the Civil War The entire town has 
been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Reverie, one of the earliest homes in the village, was owned 
by Major Edmund Wmston in 1826. He gave it to his daughter 
in 1847 when she married Dr. Whitson Harris. The fire which 
destroyed Reverie in 1987 also consumed all of the antique fur- 
niture and books that had been collected by the John Walleys, 
who owned the house at that time. Hatton House, also owned 
by Major Winston, is probably the oldest house now in 

In 1 828 Major Charles Michie, a veteran of the War of 1 8 1 2, 
settled in LaGrange and built Woodlawn, an imposing edifice 
standing on the eastern edge of town. The Greek Revival porch 
was added some years later, making the entrance on the east 


rather than the north. This was done, it is said, because Michie 
did not want his house to face the railroad which was being built 
on the northern boundary of his property. 

Another landmark residence is Hancock Hall featuring dou- 
ble porticoes, one facing south, the other west. The house was 
built by Dr. J. J. Pulliam. In 1875 Dr. Pulliam purchased Wood- 
lawn from Major Michie's daughter, Mrs. Olivia Michie Winston, 
and she in turn bought his home, which she sold in 1879 to Cap- 
tain William F. Hancock. For many years it was the home of Mr. 
and Mrs. Peter R. Beasley. Mrs. Beasley, the former Ida Lee 
Hancock, was the daughter of Captain Hancock, and Mr Beas- 
ley was the grandson of Dr. Pulliam, the builder of the home. 

Among the early immigrants to LaCrange were Major 
George Cossitt and his nephew, Franklin Dwight Cossitt, who 
arrived in 1831 from New York. Major Cossitt married one of 
Major Michie's daughters. In 1835 he built Cossitt Castle, a large 
mansion on the southern edge of town overlooking the Wolf 
River bluff and commanding a view of many miles into northern 
Mississippi. It became the home of his nephew, Frederick Henry 
Cossitt, who later moved to Memphis and gave that city the li- 
brary which now bears his name. 

In 1845 Frank Cossitt built Tiara, purchased in 1905 by J. B. 
Sims, whose daughter still lives there. The most distinctive fea- 
ture of this two-story home is its cupola. During a tornado in 
1900 the cupola was blown away, landing intact in Hickory Valley 
some ten miles away. It was brought back and replaced. 

Perhaps the most famous of the early residents of this village 
was Lucy Holcombe Pickens, known as the queen of the Con- 
federacy. Born in 1832 in a house which still stands on the north 
side of the railroad in LaGrange, she spent her childhood there 
before moving with her family to Texas. In 1 858 she was married 
to Francis Wilkinson Pickens, soon to become United States Am- 
bassador to Russia. At the outbreak of the Civil War, they re- 
turned home. Pickens was elected governor of South Carolina. 
It was during this time that Lucy became known as the queen of 
the Confederacy, and her likeness appeared on at least three se- 
ries of Confederate bills. She was the only woman so honored. 


Tennessee County History Series 

Birthplace of Lucy Holcomb Pickens, LaGrange. 

Another woman whose life made an impact in a different 
way in the history of LaGrange was Mrs. Mary Hayes Willis Glos- 
ter. As a result of her efforts, Immanuel Parish was established 
in LaGrange, the oldest Episcopal Church in West Tennessee. 
Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches were also orga- 
nized in LaGrange. On November 23, 1900, a tornado struck 
the town, destroying these three church buildings, as well as the 
train depot and much of the business area. The Baptists and 
Presbyterians did not rebuild. The Methodists erected a sanc- 
tuary which was destroyed by another tornado in 1926. The 
church was again rebuilt. The Episcopal and Methodist are pres- 
ently the only churches in the town. 

LaGrange reached its zenith in the decade before the Civil 
War. Memphis women rode the trains of the Memphis and 
Charleston railroad to LaGrange to do their shopping. The town 
at that time could boast of four churches, two colleges, two news- 
papers, a baker, a gunsmith, two blacksmiths, a carriage shop, a 
tin shop, a tailor shop, several dressmakers, a milliner, a weaver, 
two drugstores, two jewelry stores, a number of dry goods stores 
on Main Street and about six more near the railroad depot, an 
iron foundry, two livery stables, a painter, the Gait House Hotel, 
a post office, two dentists, and the depot with a ticket office and 
separate waiting rooms for ladies and gentlemen. 


Two colleges were established during this decade. They were 
LaGrange Female College and LaGrange Synodical College. In 
October of 1855 the Tennessee General Assembly chartered 
LaGrange Female (College and authorized it to grant both sec- 
ondary and college degrees. It was to be financed through the 
sale of stock, and citizens of LaGrange contributed $30,000 for 
the erection of a building. The plan was under the direction of 
Professor David Bancroft Johnson who served as the first pres- 
ident of the institution. The college continued to flourish until 
the turn of the century, and young women from every state of 
the South were numbered among its alumnae. After it ceased to 
be a college, the building was used as a public school until it was 
destroyed by fire in April of 1921. 

Three months after chartering the girls school, the legisla- 
ture passed an act incorporating the Presbyterian Synodical Col- 
lege for men. The Masonic order gave $37,500 to induce the 
Presbyterian Synod to locate the college in LaGrange. Other 
gifts were soon forthcoming. Dr. John H. Gray, D.D., pastor of 
Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, was elected president 
of the college in 1856. On October 1, 1857, classes began. The 
faculty was composed of professors of ancient languages, nat- 
ural philosophy, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, and civil 
engineering with lecturers on physiology and international law. 
Dr. John N. Waddell, professor of ancient languages, was a 
brother-in-law of Dr. Gray. Dr. Waddell later became Chancellor 
of the University of Mississippi. The college had 1 19 students 
from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Tuition 
for a nine-months' term was $50, and room and board for a 
month was between $12.50 and $15.00. The institutions only 
graduating class was that of 1 86 1 . The graduation exercises were 
held a month early, whereupon the entire class volunteered for 
the Confederate Army. The building was destroyed during the 
war and was never rebuilt. 

Earlier LaGrange had suffered a severe setback with the fail- 
ure of the LaGrange and Memphis Railroad. The stock was pur- 
chased by the newly chartered Memphis and Charleston 

104 Tennessee County History Series 

Railroad. In 1853 the line reached Moscow and LaGrange, but 
it was no longer a LaGrange-owned enterprise. 

It was the Givil War, however, that struck the paralyzing blow 
to the town. On June 13, 1862, less than a week after the fall of 
Memphis, a large body of Federal troops moved into LaGrange, 
a natural outpost because of its location on both the railroad and 
the bluffs overlooking a wide expanse of territory in northern 
Mississippi. The troops stayed until the end of the wan 

Woodlawn became West Tennessee headquarters for General 
William T. Sherman. For several months it served as an emer- 
gency hospital. Hancock Hall was taken over by Colonel Mizner, 
his wife, and their small son. The owners were allowed the use 
of three rooms on the first floor. General Grant stayed at Han- 
cock Hall when he was in LaGrange, and on at least one occasion, 
Mrs. Grant was there also. Describing his stopover at Hancock 
Hall, General Grant wrote: 

I halted at LaGrange. General Hurlburt was in command there at 
the time and his headquarters tents pitched on the lawns of a very 
commodious country house. The proprietor was at home and 
learning of my arrival, he invited General Hurlburt and me to dine 
with him. I accepted the invitation and spent a very pleasant after- 
noon with my host, who was a thorough Southern gentleman, fully 
convinced of the justice of secession. 

A number of homes in the town were destroyed during the 
war. Immanuel Church was used as a hospital, as barracks, and 
finally for the storage of ordnance. Federal troops also occupied 
the building of LaGrange Synodical College, converting it first 
into a hospital and later into a prison. During the winter of 
1863-1864, it was torn down and the bricks used to build chim- 
neys for the huts and tents of Union soldiers. In the 1890s, the 
Federal government paid the Presbyterian Church $50,000 for 
the razed building. 

There was little actual fighting in LaGrange, although there 
were several skirmishes in the area. However, the war had 
wrought so much devastation and destruction that the town 
never regained its prewar prosperity. 



This town is located in the southern part of the county at the 
junction of Highways 57 and 76, and on the route of the South- 
ern Railway. It is on the first public road cut through the comity, 
which crossed Wolf River at Heads Ferry and was called State 
Line Road. 

The first settlement was made in 1824 by Daniel Head, who 
was the first gunsmith in the county. Horace Loomis opened a 
business in the village in 1826, and a school was taught by a Dr. 
Smith in that same year. In 1827 Owen Cochran opened a hotel, 
the first in the town. The post office at Moscow was not estab- 
lished until February 8, 1833, with William Fletcher as the first 

On August 27, 1827, five men (John Brown, Josiah Cotton, 
James Kimbrough, John Powell, and Nathaniel Ragan) com- 
prising the "Town Company of Moscow" purchased from Daniel 
Head the land on which to establish a town. 

Why these men chose the name of Moscow remains a mys- 
tery. Tradition says that it comes from an Indian word meaning 
"between two rivers," the location being near the confluence of 
the Wolf River and the North Fork of Wolf. An old Indian trail 
which passed through the village was the Mossac Trail, and that 
may have influenced the proprietors in choosing the name, as 
well as the fact that Wolf River itself was also called Margot River. 
And although local residents would be quick to deny that the 
Russian city of Moscow was in any way connected with this Ten- 
nessee town, one cannot discount the fact that Napoleons march 
on Moscow in 1812 and his ultimate defeat may have been in 
the minds of these men as they were founding a new town. 

Moscow's first application for incorporation was approved on 
July 8, 1851. If early records of town meetings were kept, they 
were probably destroyed when the town was burned during the 
Civil War. Another charter was issued in 1870, and records are 
available since that time. Thirty-three people have served as 
mayor, including one woman, Mrs. Cloteal Morton, in office 
from 1960 to 1966. 

106 Teiniessee County History Series 

The Memphis and Charleston Railroad reached Moscow in 
1853 and gave the community an excellent means of transport- 
ing its commodities. Moscow was a "register station," meaning 
that all trains, both passenger and freight, stopped to register 
and receive orders. The depot on the south side of the tracks 
w^as a bustling center of activity, handling passengers, freight, 
and express. It was also the telegraph office, and all important 
emergency messages were sent and received there. Across the 
tracks was the huge water tank where trains stopped to take on 
water for their steam locomotives. 

Also on the north side of the tracks was a two-story hotel 
operated by a succession of different proprietors. Prior to 1900 
it was known as the Dowdy Hotel, run by Miss Lou and Miss 
Florence Dowdy. Later it was the Burnette Hotel, and still later 
its designation was Holmes Hotel. On the south side of the tracks 
(the side on which the business houses were located) was another 
hotel, the Cowan House. It had an attractive lobby, a large and 
commodious dining room, and a kitchen on the lower floor A 
barber shop was located right off the lobby. The second floor 
offered a number of guest rooms. In 1887 the proprietor, J. D. 
Crossett, advertised that this was the "leading hotel in the city — 
Porter at all times." Later this building was known as the Guy 
Hotel. Both hotels were destroyed by fire, though not at the 
same time. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the two hotels 
provided accommodations for overnight visitors and for trav- 
eling salesmen, called "drummers," who traveled by train to call 
on the local merchants. 

While the railroad was a boon to the economy of the town, 
it was also in part the cause of the town's becoming the site of 
some skirmishes during the Civil War, as Federal troops fought 
to keep the rail lines open as a means of transporting troops and 
supplies. The Battle of Moscow on December 3, 1863, and the 
later destruction by fire as the troops pulled out left the town in 

As rebuilding began after the war, a number of business 
houses opened. Among them were the stores of W A. and John 
Steger, Bailey and Parr, S. Bejach, and J. L. Jobe. All of these 


were general merchandise stores, handling everything from 
candy to caskets. Typical of the larger stores was that of S. Be- 
jach, who opened his store in 1876. His son has written a vivid 
description of that store, excerpts of which follow: 

Entrance to the store was through the dry goods side, access 
to the grocery side being through a large arch near the rear At 
the front of the dry goods side were kept the drugs and reme- 
dies. Castor oil, chill tonic, and Epsom salts were the most fre- 
quent sellers. Across the aisle from the drug section was the area 
devoted to school books, such as McGuffey Readers, blue back 
spellers, elementary geography, and history books. 

A wider center aisle was flanked on each side by long wooden 
counters. Behind the counters were shelves for dry goods: bolts 
of calico at 4^ a yard, gingham and percales at 8^ a yard. The 
finer materials for women's dresses and coats were priced as high 
as 15^ and 25^ a yard. Under the counters, there were boxes of 
boots, both leather and rubber. 

Luxuries such as ribbons were kept in small glass cases atop 
the counters up front. The face powder of that day was called 
"whiting" and was sold in bulk by the ounce. Perfume, too, was 
a luxury, and the store stocked Hoyt's German Cologne at 5 and 
10^ a botde. 

Along the grocery side ran counters about half way to the 
rear of the store. Wall shelves held canned goods. Sardines came 
in two sizes, 5^ and 10^ a can. Oranges and bananas were 
stocked only for special occasions. Bananas came as they grew, 
on a stalk in bunches. The price of these imported fruits was 
always high — three for a nickel. 

Cheese came in huge round cakes. On the counter was the 
cheese cutter, which had a revolving base with a cutting knife 
attached. There was also a tobacco cutter on the counter. At the 
end of the counter came the barrels of flour, sugar, and salt. 
Other commodities that came in barrels were molasses, vinegar, 
and turpentine. Coal oil (kerosene) came in a barrel that was 
equipped with an automatic measure, so that the gauge could 
be set at the desired quantity and when the handle was turned, 
the flow would stop when the proper amount had been released. 


Tonu'sscc (U)unt\ History Scries 

The old "calaboose" or jail at Moscow, built about 1920. 

Since there were no undertakers or funeral parlors in rural 
areas, stores carried a stock of coffins as a service as well as a 
profitable business item. 

In addition to general merchandise stores, other types of 
businesses flourished. Saloons w^ere run by Bart Simmons, John 
Harris, H. M. H. Maas, and Hester Sc Fortune. Ablacksmith shop 
was located at the corner of Charleston and Third streets, run 
by Will Bryant. A tannery was located near the present site of the 
Methodist Church. A narrow gauge railroad ran down to the 
edge of the river to haul sand from its banks. 

Around the turn of the century, businesses were opened by 
Bryant Brothers and J. T. Hester. Moscow Mercantile Company 
was organized in 1912 with C. H. Rich, Shack Franklin, and 
H. M. Boswell as partners. The business has remained in the 
Boswell family, and is the oldest business in continuous opera- 
tion in the town. A drugstore was opened in 1910 with R. M. 
Bevis as pharmacist. The business was piuxhased by J. D. Hester 
in 1919, a pharmacist who operated it until his retirement in 

Being in cotton country, the town had a number of gins, the 


first being built by J. E. Burnette. Johnny Owen and Moscow 
Mercantile Company later owned and operated gins. 

In 1938 R. L. Lewis opened a restaurant at the junction of 
Highways 57 and 76. Featuring pit barbecue, he soon attracted 
customers from a wide area. He recently celebrated 50 years in 

Several disasters have hit this small village. During the yellow 
fever epidemic of 1878, 44 local citizens died, including two of 
the town's doctors, J. S. Hill and J. M. Wheeler The business 
section of Moscow suffered a disastrous fire on November 5, 
1937, which apparently started in a warehouse on an alley be- 
tween Third and Fourth streets. Spreading rapidly, it destroyed 
42 buildings, including nearly all of the stores in the downtown 
area. The town has suffered two tornadoes. The first occurred 
on March 21, 1952, resulting in loss of life, personal injury, and 
destruction of homes and property. On January 19, 1988, an- 
other tornado hit the western edge of town, again with loss of 
life but not within the town itself. 

There are tw^o churches in town. Morris Memorial Baptist 
church was organized in 1905, and Moscow^ United Methodist 
Church in 1854. The elementary school, on a site which had 
been used for educational purposes since 1910, was moved in 
1988 to a new building just east of town. 


This village, ten miles w^est of Somerville on Highway 64, was 
settled about 1830 by pioneers who came from Virginia and 
North Carolina. Located on the Old Stage Road, the tow-n ap- 
parently took its name from the grove of oak trees found there. 
Credit for the founding of Oakland goes to James A. Hunter, a 
medical doctor who was born in North Carolina. He came to 
Fayette County with his father, Samuel G. Hunter, and two 
brothers, (Charles and John. They opened the first dry goods 
store in 1 830, the same year that Dr. Hunter built the first dwell- 
ing in the town. John B. Smith was the first postmaster when the 
post office w^as established in 1831 , the seventh in the county. 

Among early residents was James A. Clay, who came to Oak- 

1 10 Tonicssee Comity HLston Series 

land in 1838. Uriah A. Irwin, who became a prosperous mer- 
chant there, was a native son, born in Fayette County in 1848 to 
parents who had settled in the comity earlier. Eli Rayner, who 
later moved to Memphis, was a cotton planter near Oakland in 
1853. Other families who have figured prominently in the his- 
tory of Oakland are the Matthews, McKinstry, and Tomlin 

The first church in the village was the Methodist Church, 
built in 1835 on one-half acre of land deeded for that purpose 
by Henry Grattan Smith. In 1839 Joseph Taylor deeded a 20- 
acre tract for the Methodist parsonage. The exact date of the 
organization of the Oakland Baptist Church is not known, but 
it was between 1835 and 1848. One of the earliest Presbyterian 
churches in the county, Prosperity, was organized near Oakland 
in 1834. The Oakland Presbyterian Church was formed in 1889 
with Reverend S. S. Gill as pastor. 

In 1878 Oakland had three dry goods stores, a grocery, a 
shoe and boot shop, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a cotton 
gin, a masonic lodge, a schoolhouse, and three churches (Meth- 
odist, Baptist, and C. M. E.) 

The Tennessee Midland Railroad came through the town in 
1888, giving an improved means of transportation. 

Education has been a concern of the people of this village 
since its founding. Records show that there was a school there 
in 1836, and Charles Watson was teaching there in 1840. John 
B. Smith deeded an acre of land north of Stage Road for the 
erection of Oakland Male Academy. Citizens who were also in- 
terested in education for girls established Oakland Female Acad- 
emy in 1848, with J. M. Alexander in charge. Academies 
successfully provided education for many years, until replaced 
by public schools in the early part of the twentieth century. In 
recent years a multimillion dollar facility has been constructed 
on the north side of Highway 64. Here instruction is given to 
pupils from kindergarten through eighth grade. 



Piperton, in the extreme southwest corner of the county, ex- 
tends on its western border to the Shelby County line. Much of 
the present area of the town was a part of Marshall County, Mis- 
sissippi, until 1837 when a survey was made that showed it to be 
in Tennessee. The old "State Line Road" runs through the town 

The community was named for Samuel Piper, who pur- 
chased a tract of land on December 1, 1837. It was not until some 
years later, however, that he built Piper s Store, one of the large 
general merchandise stores of the county. 

One of the earliest settlers was Lovard Hooks, who came 
from North Carolina with his wife Sarah Applewhite Hooks. An- 
other early settler was Josiah Deloach, who bought a section of 
land from Ruffin Coleman in 1837 after living on it for a while. 
Wiley Cargill settled in the area in 1846. The 1850 census shows, 
in part, the families of William A. Cargill, Wiley Cargill, Samuel 
J. Dunn, Isaac Evans, John J. Evans, John A. Farley, Sarah 
Hooks, and Albert Smithson as residents of this community. 

Tullahoma Road in Piperton, linking Highway 57 with High- 
way 72, was written in early deeds as "Chulahoma," so named 
because it led to the town of Chulahoma, Mississippi. 

Piperton in the 1880s had at least two stores, two white 
schools (also used for worship services), two black churches (Mt. 
Zion and Mt. Hebrew), and a cotton gin. Not untiljune 12, 1888, 
was there a post office in town. Samuel Piper was the first post- 
master at this short-lived facility, which was closed on September 
21, 1898. 

Statistically it would seem that nothing has changed a great 
deal. There are still two stores, though not the same two. Pleas- 
ants Grocery stands at the intersection of Highway 57 and route 
196. Another small store is located on Highway 72 near the 
Shelby County line. 

Industrially, however, Piperton has seen great changes. Ex- 
isting industries include The Alpha Corporation of Tennessee, 
which produces polyester resin; Pioneer Concrete Company, 

112 Tennessee County History Series 

producer of ready-mix concrete; and Rus-Dun Farms, an egg 
processing plant. A 100-acre industrial park will accommodate 
new industries. 

There is a newly constructed Baptist Church and the United 
Methodist Church was erected in 1961 to replace an older 
church building which stood on Old State Line Road. The two 
black churches, Mt. Zion and Mt. Hebrew are still active. There 
is no school in the town, however Elementary pupils are trans- 
ported to Southwest school on the Rossville-Macon Road; high 
school students attend Fayette-Ware Comprehensive High 
School near Somerville. 

On May 24, 1974, residents of the community approved a 
proposal to incorporate the town. A few weeks later they elected 
their first municipal officials; William Culbreath, James W. 
Goode, and R T Pinckney, HI. In 1980 the population was 746. 


The town of Rossville had its origin in a village called La- 
Fayette, as it was referred to in the official records of Civil War 
skirmishes. The first settlement was made along the old State 
Line Road, now Highway 57. The town was laid out on land 
owned by John F. Robertson, land which had been surveyed in 
1837 for his father, J. C. N. Robertson. The post office for the 
Lafayette area was called Sandy Springs; early postmasters were 
Edward W Tipton, Robert Knox, and Granville R Stone. Other 
Sandy Springs postmasters were Eli Hogg, John F. Robertson, 
John C. Gill, and James M. Allen. 

Robertson, who owned a 200-acre plantation there, let the 
railroad have four acres for a roadbed and depot. He also sold 
his own stock of goods and merchandise in his store in Lafayette 
in 1846 to William Johnson. 

Lafayette became Rossville in 1853. When the Memphis and 
Charleston Railroad reached the town, business houses and 
homes were built on a new site near the depot. The new town 
took its name from Ulysses H. Ross. The Sandy Springs post 
office was moved and renamed Rossville; Thomas Winburn was 
appointed the first postmaster Also in 1853, the first dry goods 


store was opened by Nicholas H. Isbell and Lucius Swift. Among 
other business hrms were Isbell and Stone, Blair and McDowell, 
and Joe Gant. Twentieth century merchants included Fair B. 
Towles and A. W. Morrison. 

The hrst doctor in the town was a Dr Lipscomb. Later Amer- 
icus V. Warr, a leader in the Masonic Order who rose to the po- 
sition of Most Worshipful Grand Master of Tennessee in 1877, 
practiced medicine in Rossville. Among the last of the old "coun- 
try doctors" was F. K. West. Rossville Health Center on Highway 
57 now ministers to the physical ills of the people. 

Rossville was incorporated in 1903, with John B. Ballard as 
the first mayor He was followed by A. S. Waller, who served as 
mayor longer than any other person. 

A terrible fire on February 27, 1922, destroyed the Methodist 
Church and consumed several business houses, a bank, a drug- 
store, and the residences of J. B. Rives and A. W Morrison. 

The first church in Lafayette was Mt. Vernon Methodist Epis- 
copal Church South. The land on which the church was built 
was deeded by David J. Jernigan on August 15, 1850, to the 
church trustees: J. D. Allen, Hiram B. Brown, James W Craw- 
ford, William A. Dobbin, Robert Glenn, D. H.Johnson, John A. 
McKindree, and John F. Robertson. In 1915 this land was 
deeded to a black congregation and is now the Mt. Vernon M. 
B. Church. 

Today there are both Baptist and Methodist congregations 
in town. In 1 874 Ulysses H. Ross donated one-half acre on which 
was erected a "Baptist Meeting House." Trustees of this church 
were E. C. Carruth, R. H. Cleere, A. L.Johnson, Henry Patter- 
son, and J. M. Warr This church was sold and torn down in 1900. 
When the church was reorganized in 1920, five members of the 
original congregation were present at the organizational meet- 
ing. In 1892 Dr A. V. Warr deeded land for the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church South to trustees Felix Fair Boyd, Dr B. L. Branch, 
and Lucius D. Waller The church erected on this land was de- 
stroyed by the fire of 1922, and a new sanctuary was erected on 
land donated by John L. Crawford. 

1 14 Tennessee County History Series 


A post office was established at Somerville on September 3, 
1825, eleven days before the town lots were sold at auction. This 
was the second post office in the county. Heads of families living 
in Somerville at the time it was organized included John Al- 
bright, A.J. Henry, Henry M.Johnson (the first postmaster), and 
James Simpson. The Tennessee Gazetteer published in 1834 states 
that there were then 100 houses and 400 inhabitants in the town, 
including 7 professional men. 

During the next 20 years a number of fine residences were 
built, many of which still stand in the Somerville Historic District 
and are on the National Register of Historic Places. Among these 
are Frogmore, built in 1829 by Dr. Josiah Higgason at 302 South 
Main Street and still occupied by his descendants; Alba Villa, 
erected in 1846 by Judge Thomas Richard Cocke and now 
owned by Reuben Scott Rhea, at 203 Maple Street; the home of 
the late William B. Wilkinson, known as the old Washington 
Place, built in 1835 at the corner of Church and Oak Streets; 
Wycliffe Wood, constructed by John Burtis about 1840, at 417 
Oak Street; the Billy Cooper home at 507 South Main, built in 
the early 1840s; and the Payson Matthews home at 503 Oak 
Street, built for Dr. and Mrs. Joel Pulliam in 1840. 

Some equally well-known residences are located beyond the 
corporate limits of the town. Woodburn, just west of the city lim- 
its, was built by Edmund Rivers in the 1840s; Lucerne, a short 
distance north of town, was built by Col. Joseph Royal Mosby in 
the 1850s; Chestnut Hill, northwest of town, was constructed in 
1833 by John A. Wmfrey; and Edmund Taylor built his home. 
Sylvan Ridge, a few miles to the northeast of the city. These pi- 
oneer builders were among the leaders of the county. 

Somerville was incorporated on December 4, 1826. The 
form of government for the city is a mayor and board of ald- 
ermen. The first mayor was John H. Ball. The mayor serving 
the longest length of time was I . P. Yancey, who served from 1 940 
to 1978, when Anne Redfearn Feathers was elected mayor, the 
first woman to hold the office. She was succeeded in 1980 by Ted 


Davis. Ronnie Neill is the present mayor; Ricky McQueen is city 

Somerville has always been a good business center. In 1825 
a store was opened by a Mr. Anderson who was sent here by 
David Deadrick of Jonesborough. The business was later bought 
by Isaac McClelland. In 1 836 there were thirteen merchants, five 
grocers with license to sell liquor, one grocer without a liquor 
license, one jewelry store, and one drug store. 

In the Tennessee Historical Society Miscellaneous Files (Box 
5 F-1 1) in Nashville, an 1878 manuscript gives this information 
about business establishments in Somerville: 

Somerville now has 7 dry goods and grocery stores, 2 grocery 
stores, 2 drug stores, I stove and tin shop, 1 tinners shop, 2 black- 
smith and wagon shops, 1 blacksmith shop, 2 shoe and boot shops, 
1 saddle and harness shop, 1 tailor shop, 1 gun and locksmith 
shop, 4 carpenters, 1 undertaker, 1 barber shop, 1 confectionery 
and bakery, 1 confectionery and grocery, 1 confectionery and toy 
store, 1 watchmaker and jeweler, 1 photograph gallery, 1 furniture 
store, 2 hotels, 2 livery stables, 2 butcher shops, 2 restaurants, 4 
saloons, 3 schools (Male Academy, Female Institute, and 1 colored 
school, with 7 white and 2 colored teachers, about 175 white and 
90 colored pupils), 6 churches (Methodist, New School Presbyter- 
ian, Episcopal, and Baptist, and colored Methodist and Baptist), 
6 physicians, 2 dentists, 15 lawyers, 3 white and 2 colored preach- 
ers, a handsome courthouse, an excellent jail, 1 Odd Fellows Hall, 
1 newspaper establishment {Somerville Falcon, S. G. Sparks, editor 
and proprietor), and a population of about 2000, of which about 
700 are colored. Also 1 flouring mill and a cotton gin. 

For the convenience of visitors and those having business at 
the county seat, overnight accommodations were provided by 
taverns and hotels. The first tavern was opened in 1825 by 
Henry M. Johnson, who was also the towns first doctor and first 
clerk of the county court, as well as the first postmaster. A Mem- 
phis newspaper reported in December of 1853, "Travelers can 
now be accommodated in style in Somerville at the Mcintosh 
House which opens Christmas week. It is situated on the public 

Tennessee County History Series 

The Southern Hotel about the turn of the century. 
Courtesy of Anne Crawford 

square convenient to the railroad depot, and offers the finest 
facilities for both man and horse." 

In 1854 Peter Reed erected the Eagle Hotel, a three-story 
structure containing 30 guest rooms, on the northeast corner of 
the square, facing the courthouse. Later it was known as the 
Southern Hotel and still later, as the Brown Hotel. In 1954 it 
ceased to be a hotel. The third story was removed and the build- 
ing remodeled into Cooksey's Department Store. 

Another hotel was opened in 1873, when William H. Weath- 
erly, who had formerly worked at the Eagle Hotel, opened the 
Weatherly House on Main Street, strategically located between 
the Memphis and Charleston Railroad depot and court square. 
A number of other hotels and boarding houses have operated 
in the town. When motels began replacing hotels throughout the 
country to accommodate traveling motorists, the Village Courts 
opened. For many years it was operated by Mr and Mrs. Henry 
B. Duquette. 


Businessmen in Somerville during the Hist 40 years were, 
like other residents, mainly of Scotch-Irish ancestry, but during 
the period following the Civil War some of the leading mer- 
chants were of Jewish and German lineage. Fred Goosman from 
Lingen, Germany, opened a jewelry store in 1870; Mike Lintz 
was a German cobbler who occupied a spot on the east side of 
the square for many years; B. Haddad, of Syrian ancestry, be- 
came a prosperous merchant at the corner of Market and North 
Main; Mark Skaller, Louis and Harry Lipsky, Albert Cohn, and 
Theodore Battel all operated businesses on the square around 
the turn of the century. Lipsky Brothers Store had a thriving 
business on the west side of the square, and in 1909 the brothers 
erected Lipsky's Opera House on the east side. This was the site 
of public speakings, plays, dances, and the like until it was de- 
stroyed by fire in 1943. Other businesses on the square in the 
early part of the twentieth century were Rhea Drug Company, 
Price Drug Store, Shinaults Grocery, Leach Hardware, and Wet- 
zler Funeral Home. Two banks were also on the square, Fayette 
County Bank and Somerville Bank and Trust Company. 

Livery stables and buggy rental establishments gave way to 
automobile agencies. Car distributorships in business in the late 
1930s were Burnette Chevrolet Company; Bond Auto Com- 
pany, a Ford agency; and Ballard's Garage, where Chryslers 
were sold. Farm equipment dealerships appeared as agricultural 
mechanization increased. 

For many years the majority of business houses were located 
on the square surrounding the courthouse, as were restaurants, 
legal offices, and local banks. Recent changes in locale have 
found businesses growing up along Highway 64, both east and 
west of the square away from the center of town. 

Specific efforts are being made to improve the downtown 
area. The Somerville Stragetic Plan was adopted in May of 1987 
with Herbert Myers, chairman, under the leadership of Mayor 
Ronnie Neill. Special assistance was provided by the Regional 
Economic Development Center of Memphis State University. 
The Somerville Revitalization Committee, chaired by Cindy 
Cooksey Alford, has developed a five-year plan to restore and 

1 18 Tennessee County History Series 

revitalize the downtown area. The success of this project is aided 
by the fact that many of the businesses are owned by longtime 
residents, some of whom have been in the same location for 
manv vears. 

Other committees working under the Somerville Stragetic 
Plan of 1987 are Community Pride, Joe Shelton, chairman; In- 
creased Retail Sales, Bill Cooper, chairman; Recreation, chaired 
bv Peggy Summers; and Support for Local Industry, chaired by 
John David Douglass. 

The latter part of the twentieth century saw the introduction 
of industry into the town. The first factory to locate in Somerville 
was H&C Table Company, which began operation in 1952. To- 
day the city actively seeks industry and has established an in- 
dustrial park of 85 acres. Industries at the present time include 
Fayette Automotive Specialties, manufacturing car seat covers 
and convertible tops; Master Apparel, Ltd., making mens pants; 
Somerville Mills, producting ladies' panties; and Grady Morris 
8c Son, distributors of lumber and ready-mix concrete. 

Four schools serve the educational needs of the town. Fayette 
Academy on the western edge of town on Highway 64 is a private 
school, grades K through 12. Three public schools are Somer- 
ville Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Fayette- Ware Com- 
prehensive High School and Vocational School. Somerville- 
Fayette County Library is a well-equipped public library located 
on Market Street. A full-time librarian and assistant keep the li- 
brary open six days a week. 

The first churches to be established in the town were Pres- 
byterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal. Others now in town 
are Church of Christ, Church of God, Nazarene, New Zion Mis- 
sionary Baptist, Morris Chapel C. M. E., Rock Temple Church 
of God in Christ, and St. Philip Roman Catholic. 

Physical needs of the residents are cared for by a number of 
excellent doctors. Methodist Hospital of Somerville, which be- 
gan its operation in 1972 as Fayette County General Hospital, is 
a well-equipped fifty-bed hospital with an outstanding staff of 


physicians and surgeons. Next door to the hospital is Somerville 
Health Center, a nursing home designed for long-term care. 
Somervilles population in 1980 was 2264. 


This small village on Highway 76 between Moscow^ and Som- 
erville is the site of an earlier settlement called Walker's Station, 
a name derived from pioneers Job and Sarah Garrison Walker, 
who settled there in 1845. Job Walker died in 1851, and the 
home place was inherited by his son, Iverson Jones Walker, who 
became a leading citizen in the civic and religious life of the com- 
munity, which at one time supported a steam-powered water sys- 
tem, a cotton gin, and a general store. 

About a mile south of Walkers Station was another settle- 
ment known as Willis Station. Here Henry Willis owned land and 
operated a store. 

In the 1850s the Somerville Branch of the Memphis and 
Charleston Railroad was constructed through this area. After 
the Civil War, as the residents were anticipating growth and de- 
velopment of their settlements, it seemed wise to work together. 
In a spirit of cooperation, the two groups formed a village which 
took the name of Williston. Names of post offices in this locality 
reflect the way the name changed. A post office was established 
at Willis Station on December 26, 1855, with Ruffin N. Willis as 
postmaster. One had been established at Walker s Station on May 
14, 1851 (George W Morris, postmaster); it was combined with 
Willis Station on November 22, 1869. Finally, the Willis Station 
post office was changed to Williston on April 10, 1873, with 
Alfred M. C. Dobbins appointed the first postmaster. 

Migration during the early days of the county was often by 
families or groups of families who usually settled near each 
other. Several such communities were settled in the area around 
Williston, comprising what would be known as the Williston area. 

Settling in the immediate vicinity of Walkers Station (Willis- 
ton) were the families of Boals, Crawford, Morris, Newby, Par- 
ker, Price, and Summers. Also there were those of Jordan, King, 
Morton, Patterson, Penick, and Willis. Others coming into this 

120 Tennessee County History Series 

area were the Davis, Humphreys, Koonce, Lazenby, Lynch, 
Phillips, Smith, Tomlinson, and Wilson families. Descendants of 
most of them still live in the county, many in the Williston area. 

Elam and Amelia Tomlinson Gaither came to Fayette County 
from Iredell County, North Carolina, in 1853 and settled three 
miles west of Williston. The family soon established Gaither 
School for grades one through nine in their community, which 
continued in operation until 1928 when the pupils were trans- 
ported to Williston School. One of the pupils of Gaither School 
in the 1890s was Nola Burnette. "Miss Nola" later graduated 
from George Peabody College and became a respected educator, 
ending her career at Williston. The widow of W. T Poore, she 
died in 1986 at the age of 106. 

Among those settling in the Gaither community were the 
Parrotts, Dr. Irvin Parrott and his wife Lucinda Waller Parrott. 
With them was Frances Jane Waller Lewis, widowed sister of Lu- 
cinda, and her son, Benjamin T Lewis. They arrived about 1 846. 
Other early immigrants settling in this community were the fam- 
ilies of Barron, Holman, McCuUey, Reeves, and Sullivan. 

The Jones Chapel Community developed about 21/2 miles 
south of Williston, where Jeremiah Burnette and his wife Mary 
Ford Ellis came in 1849 from their former home in Iredell 
County, North Carolina. Others who settled around Jones 
Chapel were the families of Davis, Garvin, Lightle, and Sum- 
mers. Numerous descendants of these families still reside in the 
county, including the present District Attorney, Paul Garvin 

People from these outlying communities, as well as those of 
Walkers Station, carried on their business affairs in Williston. 
The store operated by Henry Willis was followed by a number 
of business establishments. A general merchandise store was 
opened by S. E. Gaither in 1869 on the town square. It is known 
today as the W C. Crawford General Merchandise Company 
and is owned by Gaither s great grandson, Harrison Crawford. 
The store has been placed on the National Register of Historic 
Places. Other businesses that flourished in Williston in the early 
twentieth century included Kings Store which stood next to 



Crawford's store at Williston, built in 1869. 

Crawford's. These stores faced north. The depot stood on the 
west side of the railroad tracks, as did a row of stores facing east. 
Some of the proprietors of these stores were Babe Burnette, 
Brant Gaither, Emil Guy, E. L. Gwynne, Fletcher King, J. H. 
Morris, R. L. Parker, and Kinnie Wilson. The store run by 
Fletcher King and later by E. L. Gwynne had a soda fountain as 
well as carrying the usual stock of general merchandise. 

There were two garages, one run by Morton Burnette and 
the other by Roy Morris. Charlie Morris also had a grist mill in 
this row of stores. 

The Bank of Williston was established in 1911. June Craw- 
ford was cashier of the bank for many years; Iverson J. Walker, 
Jr., and Ernest Lee Gwynne both served as president before the 
bank surrendered its charter in 1937. 

R. G. Patterson was the first doctor in the town. Dr. A. M. C. 
Dobbins and Dr. Joseph Garvin both succumbed to yellow fever 
while ministering to victims during the epidemic of 1 878. Henry 


Tennessee County History Series 

Brant Gaither, operator of Mortons store (now Williston Auction 
House) about 1910. 

F. Smith, whose old office still stands facing the town square, 
A. B. Yancey, and J. K. Crawford, were later doctors in Williston. 

An academy was erected in Williston in 1873. Dr. J. C. Boals 
was the first principal of the academy, and his assistant was Mr. 
S. I. Crawford. Another instructor about this time was the Rev- 
erend Junius P. Walker. In 1889 Professor T. T. Hardy took 
charge of Williston Academy. In the early 1900s public schools 
replaced the academies. Williston School had classes for grades 
one through eleven. In 1934, during a period of consolidation, 
the high school classes were discontinued and pupils were trans- 
ported to Fayette County High School at Somerville. Following 
the construction of Central Elementary School on Highway 76 
in 1968, the school at Williston was closed. 

There are two churches in town. The United Methodist 
Church of Williston was founded as the Methodist Episcopal 
Church South in 1878, the sanctuary erected on land given by 
Iverson Jones Walker. The Crawfords, Gwynnes, Summers, and 


Walkers were early leaders in Methodism there. Williston Baptist 
Church was erected in 1928. The members of Ebenezer Baptist 
Church, a small church about 2'/_> miles east of town, transferred 
and formed the nucleus of the congregation of the new church 
in town. Both Methodist and Baptist churches have active mem- 
berships. Shady Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 2^/2 
miles northwest of town, was established in 1834, and many of 
the town's residents worshiped there. 

Members of the community have taken an active part in the 
political life of the county and of the state. James Brister, Hugh 
Crawford, Julius A. Summers, Julius B. Summers, and Iverson 
J. Walker have all served in the Legislature. 

In spite of its early settlement and interest in public affairs, 
the town was not incorporated until 1970. Since that time, a 
water system has been installed, as well as a number of street 
lights. A new subdivision, west of the older section of town, has 
brought about twenty new homes and new residents. The pres- 
ent population is about 300. 

Unincorporated Villages 

Hickory Withe 

A settlement was begun on Stage Road between Oakland and 
the Shelby County line about 1830. It took its name from a grove 
of hickory trees which formerly stood on the site. At times it was 
called Hickory Grove, sometimes Wythe Depot, but Hickory 
Withe is the name by which it has been known for the past 

Among the earliest settlers were William H. Russell and Oran 
Knalls, both of whom arrived in the area before 1830. Russell 
was in business in 1837 with Moses Waddel and Isaac Killough. 
The store was bought in 1839 by the Lenow brothers, who had 
come to this region from Southhampton County, Virginia. 

Joseph Lenow was captain of the Fayette Cavalry during the 
Mexican War. When a post office was established in Hickory 
Withe in 1845, he became the first postmaster. The Lenows were 

124 Tctniessce Comity History Series 

active citizens of the town before moving to Memphis about 

The first doctor in the town was George M. Young. He was 
followed bv Dr. James W. Karr, son of William Karr from South 
Carolina who had arrived in this area in 1833. 

Lewis Trezevant and James Lane established a business part- 
nership: in 1847 Trezevant sold out to Lane. One of the oldest 
and best known businesses in the county was that of A. Weber 
and Company, established in 1865. It included a large country 
store and a cotton gin and remained in operation until 1951. 

The residents of Hickory Withe were primarily of the Pres- 
byterian faith. In 1838 Richard Dowdy deeded three acres for 
a Cumberland Presbyterian church near the village. The first 
church was erected by the Old School Presbyterians in 1841. In 
June of 1859 the Mount Pleasant Society Church was formed 
with the Reverend Marion Zellner, a Cumberland Presbyterian 
minister, as the first pastor. Elders were Thomas Cody, P. H. Cole, 
Bartley Kyle, J. M. Lane, Hardy McCulley, B. F. Murrell, J. Q. 
Murrell, and Pleasant Word. In 1860 Dr. James W Karr deeded 
land for the Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church to be built on 
the site it now occupies. Other families associated with the 
growth of the church and community are the Hodges, the Ivys, 
and the Lucks. 

The first school was taught by Samuel Leake in 1 846. In 1 854 
James M. Lane deeded land east of the church and near Stage 
Road for Hickory Withe Academy. He was a trustee of the acad- 
emy, along with James W Baker, Peter H. Cole, William Karr, 
Charles Lynn, George Thompson, and Jacob Young. 


Between 1865 and 1880 there was a small settlement with a 
store and post office on the Memphis and Jackson Stage Road 
where it ran through the Brinkley farm. In 1888, when the Ten- 
nessee Midland Railroad was laying its tracks, a depot was built 
at the present site of Laconia, called at that time Kola. J. W 
Bryant, postmaster at Brinkley, purchased land along the rail- 
road near the depot on which he built a store, cotton gin, and 


residence. The post office was moved to his store, but continued 
to be called Brinkley for some time. However, when the railroad 
named their depot site Laconia, the village and post office also 
adopted that name. 

Bailey K. Morrison and the Day family have long been as- 
sociated with the growth and development of Laconia. Morrison 
purchased a store in Laconia in 1904, later acquiring a cotton 
gin and large tracts of land. In 1936 he married Allien Day, 
whose family had come to Fayette County in 1836. After his 
death in 1954 she took over the operation of the business. After 
her marriage to Marvin Nimn in 1960 he assumed responsibility 
for the business until his retirement. In 1985 the Nunns sold the 
store and gin to William and Howard Dowdy, who continue 
operating the business. 

A private elementary school, Union Academy, was estab- 
lished in the 1970s and is still in operation. Among the churches 
in the area are Liberty Baptist, Pleasant Hill Methodist, Mt. Car- 
mel Cumberland Presbyterian, and Travelers Rest, a Baptist 
church established by blacks. Prior to the construction of sepa- 
rate sanctuaries, the congregations all used the same building, 
which stood where Mt. Carmel now stands. It was known as Old 
Union, a name still applied to Mt. Carmel by some older 


The unincorporated village of Macon has a long and im- 
pressive history. Settled in 1835, it was named for Nathaniel Ma- 
con, a North Carolina statesman who had lent his support to the 
formation of the state of Tennessee. A post ofhce was established 
on April 15, 1837, with T. K. Rhodes as the first postmaster 

The village was founded by Robert A. Brown, a physician 
who owned the land on which the town was situated. He built 
the first dwelling there. He had the town surveyed and laid out 
in lots, a number of which he sold between 1839 and 1842. Dr. 
Brown was also a partner in a dry goods store that opened in 
1836, the other partners being Dixon Boswell and Adam Farish. 

Macon applied for a charter of incorporation which was 

126 Tcfuiessce County History Series 

granted on February 2, 1846, and Dn Brown was elected mayor 
The municipal government was soon suspended, but was re- 
vived in 1860, when Dr George T. Hunter was elected mayor 
The charter was surrendered in 1900 and the village has re- 
mained unincorporated since. 

Macon was severely damaged by fire in 1849. Most of the 
businesses were destroyed, but were soon replaced by better 
buildings. The town continued to flourish until the Tennessee 
Midland Railroad routed its lines through Oakland and Somer- 
ville instead of through Macon. 

One of the early roads leading from Fayette to Shelby 
County was the Raleigh-Macon Road. 

Macon w^as a seat of learning in the nineteenth century. The 
first school was opened there in 1 839 and was taught by Solomon 
Karr. Macon Female Institute was chartered in 1848. Macon Ma- 
sonic College, a school for boys, was organized in 1847 and 
opened in 1849 with Professor W. H. Blake in charge and about 
60 students. William Rainey Harper, renowned as the first pres- 
ident of the University of Chicago, began his professional career 
as head of Macon Masonic College in 1875, shortly after his 
graduation from Yale University. D. K. Donnell was a respected 
educator who served not only his local community of Macon, but 
also was Superintendent of Education for Fayette County from 
1901 to 1915. Public schools which formerly were located near 
the center of the village were destroyed by fire. Elementary pu- 
pils today attend Southwest School nearby; high school students 
attend Fayette- Ware Comprehensive High School in Somerville. 

Problems and Prospects 

Fayette County first experienced serious interest from out- 
side residential real estate developers in the 1960s. These de- 
velopers were mainly interested in supplying suburban homes 
to the growing population in the nearby Memphis metropolitan 
area. They were somewhat successful, and for the first time Fay- 
ette County experienced the changes of modern growth. 

This thrust of development was initially confined to isolated 


areas where old farms could be bought and resold for proht, 
particularly in the western area of the county. This fringe de- 
velopment pattern also suited the real estate consumer who de- 
sired to live "in the country" while having only a brief commute 
by automobile to the higher paying job market of the Memphis 

Since the late '60s, this growth in housing has continued at 
a moderate pace, slowed or interrrupted briefly at different 
times by the availability and price of gasoline. Rising home mort- 
gage interest rates have likewise played a role in determining the 
level of local housing growth. 

Professional planners in the past two decades have coined a 
phrase for the type of residential development experienced by 
Fayette County. It is known as "suburban sprawl, "and it is a most 
difficult growth pattern for rural governments to cope with. 

About 1972 the chief executive officer of the Fayette County 
Quarterly Court, John C. Rice, III, had the foresight to make a 
strong push for a comprehensive planning program for the 
county. He and others could see that without adequate controls, 
rampant unguided development would radically escalate the 
cost of providing essential government services in the decades 

Thus was born the Fayette County Regional Planning Com- 
mission, with power to regulate residential and commercial 
growth, and by way of fair land use restrictions, to guide most 
population and business growth to areas where it could best be 
accommodated. At the same time another thrust was to encour- 
age slow to moderate growth and to preserve open space and 
the rural character of the county. 

The land use restrictions of the early years were very general 
in nature and were designed to be flexible. Since those days, the 
Quarterly County Court and its successor, the County Commis- 
sion, have amended the regulations several times in order to 
keep pace with changes in development patterns. 

Today Fayette County's western half is on the leading edge 
of Memphis' eastern sprawl. Planning has become important 
enough that every one of the county's nine towns has its own 

128 Tennessee County History Series 

planning commission. Oakland and Somerville, to become even 
more effective, have consolidated planning efforts with the 
county. The town of LaGrange has even organized a Historical 
Planning Commission to help preserve its unique architecture 
and heritage. 

Presently all areas of the county have recognized the wisdom 
of guided growth. Almost every town has a designated "indus- 
trial park" with necessary city services ready for hook-up. Job 
expansion is needed and encouraged, but local government 
leaders agree that there is a proper geographical place for it. 
That place is not in scattered spots all about the rural country- 
side, but concentrated in locations where the logical expansion 
of public services can accommodate it. 

Estimates are that Fayette County's population will near 
30,000 by 1990. Population growth trends of the '70s have con- 
tinued into and throughout the '80s. Major transportation proj- 
ects such as the planned four-lane expansion of Highway 64 
across Fayette County will, no doubt, encourage more suburban- 
type residential growth. 

There is need today for commercial and industrial growth 
to catch up with residential growth. Fayette County still ranks in 
the lower 20% by per capita income among all 95 counties of 
Tennessee. Formed in 1978, the Fayette County Chamber of 
Commerce has striven for economic improvement. There have 
been moderate successes, but Fayette's Tennessee neighbors still 
show more economic vitality. 

Agriculture remains today a major component of the Fayette 
County economy. In 1982 Fayette's gross income from agricul- 
ture ranked second in magnitude among Tennessee's counties. 
With its proximity to the Memphis metropolitan area, however, 
it appears imminent that such agricultural strength will diminish 
over the coming decades. The demand for more suburban home 
sites will put pressure on farm landowners to sell their lands at 
very lucrative prices. Those who remain in agriculture will find 
it difficult to exist in a quickly suburbanizing locale. A large-scale 
dichotomy of lifestyles will develop. Fayette County is truly a 
county in transition. 


John Shelton Wilder 

As Lieutenant Governor of the State of Tennessee and 
Speaker of the Senate, John Shelton Wilder has had profound 
influence on the legislative history of Tennessee during a period 
of great structural change in the social, economic, business, ag- 
ricultural, and educational life of the state. 

By statute, the Speaker of the Senate holds the office of Lieu- 
tenant Governor Wilder has held these two distinguished posi- 
tions longer than any other senator in the history of Tennessee. 
He was first elected to the Senate in 1959 and was chosen 
Speaker of that body in 1971. He is now in his tenth consecutive 
two-year term in that office. 

Wilder was born in Fayette County in the little village of 
Longtown, where he still lives. He is involved in the management 
of Longtown Supply Company, a family firm established in 1887 
which is engaged in farming, cotton ginning, and general mer- 
chandising. He served as a member of the Fayette County Court 
for 18 years and is past president of the National Association of 
Soil Conservation Districts, which has over three thousand mem- 

130 Tennessee County History Series 

ber organizations nationwide representing three million mem- 
bers. He has previously served as vice-president and treasurer 
of N.A.C.D. and as president of Tennessee Association of Soil 
Conservation Districts. He is a past president of the Tennessee 
Cotton Ginners Association. 

Educated in the public schools of Fayette County, Wilder at- 
tended the University of Tennessee's College of Agriculture and 
graduated from Memphis State University Law School. He be- 
came a member of the Tennessee Bar in 1957. He is a Mason, 
Scottish Rite, Shriner, and a member of the Delta Theta Phi Le- 
gal Fraternity. 

Active in Christian work, he is a Lay Leader of the Braden 
United Methodist Church and teaches an adult Sunday School 
class. Wilder is an avid aviator, holding advanced ratings, and 
has enjoyed flying for over 35 years. 

A World War H veteran, he is married to the former Marcelle 
Morton of Williston, Tennessee, and has two married sons, John 
Shelton Wilder, Jr., and David Morton Wilder, and four 

Suggested Readings 

Bejach, L. D. "The Battle of Moscow." West Tennessee Historical Society 

Papers 27 (1973), 108-112. 

"The History of Bell Countyr WTHS Papers 1 (1947), 24-37. 

Davidson, Faye T "The Ames F\3.nta.iion." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 

38(1979), 267-276. 
DeBerry, John H. "LaGrange — La Belle Village." Tennessee Historical 

Qimrterly 30 (1971), 133-153. 
Downing, Marvin. The West Tennessee Farm. Martin: University of Ten- 
nessee at Martin, 1979. 
"Fayette County .'' History of Tennessee, ed. Weston A. Goodspeed et al. 

Nashville, 1887, pp. 797-817, 840-887. 
Fayette County Historical Society Bulletin 1—18, 1976—1988. 
Folmsbee, Stanley J., Robert E. Corlew, and Enoch L. Mitchell. History 

of Tennessee. 2 vols. New York. 1960. 
History of Fayette County, Tennessee. Salem, WV: Walsworth Press, 1986. 
Holden, Alfred H. "The Way It Was When We Rode 'Mxke .'' Tennessee 

Historical Quarterly 18 (1959), 345-352. 
Laws, Forrest. "The Railroad Comes to Tennessee: The Building of 

the LaGrange and Memphis Railroad." WTHS Papers 30 (1976), 

Morris, Eastin. Tennessee Gazetteer. Nashville, 1834. 
Morton, Dorothy R. "Fayette's First Fifty Years: 1824-1874." Masters 

thesis, Memphis State University, 1951. 
150 Years in Fayette County. Somerville: Fayette County Sesquicenten- 

nial. Inc., 1974. 
West, Carroll Van. Tennessee Agriculture: A Century Perspective. Nashville: 

Tennessee Department of Agriculture, 1986. 
Williams, J. S. Old Times in West Tennessee. Memphis, 1873. 
Williams, Samuel Cole. Beginnings of West 7^nn^5^^^. Johnson City, 1930. 



Illustrations are indicated by an asterisk following the page number 

Adams, S. B.,51 
Agriculture, 33-43, 128 
Agricultural Extension Service, 39-40 
Ames Plantation, 39, 93-94* 
Anderson, John, 9, 67 
Armour, Harris A. Ill, 34 
Armour, William H., 34 
Armstrong, Herman & John, 58-59 
Ashford, Homazelle league, 35 

Baird, R. H., 45 

Banks, 47-50, 117, 121 

Baptist churches, 61-63 

Beauford, Miles, 25 

Bejach, Lois Dilliard, 60 

Bejach, S.: store of, 106, 107 

Belmont, 13,27,65,69 

Bennett, John 8c family, 8 

Bishop, John, 59 

Black, Leander, 9 

Black churches, 65, 71-74 

Black schools, 51, 53, 54 

Blacks, 3, 34, 36, 45, 74-77 

Blackwood, Kerry, 61 

Blain, Nathaniel & family, 9, 33 

Bland, Peter Randolph, 10, 63, 69 

Bond, George, 45 

Boswell, Carter & Frank, 35 

Bowers, George, 7, 15, 79 

Bowling, Gavle, 47 

Braden, 31, 53, 59, 62, 66, 73, 

96-98, 97* 
Brame, Charles B., 35 
Branch, Benjamin, 10 
Brooks, Henry, 15 
Brown, James, 15,43 
Brown, John, 60 
Brown, Robert A., 57, 125 
Brunson, Steve, 42 
Bulle, S. R., 49 
Burch, Walter, 35 
Burnette, J. E., 49 

Burtis, John. 34, 114 

Camp meetings, 6(>-67 

Cannon, Nora, 51, 55 

Cannon, Robert H., 55 

Cannon, William J., 35 

Cargill, Bernice, 21 

Carpenter, Grady & family, 41 

Cash, Marie Havercamp, 34 

Century farms, 33-36 

Christian C^hurch, 70-71 

Church of Christ, 70 

Church of God in Christ, 73-74 

Churches, 13-14, 61-74, 96, 98-99, 102, 

110, 112, 113, 118, 122-123, 124, 125 
Civil rights movement, 74-77 
Civil War, 78, 80-86 
Claxton, Pollv & Lucv Ann, 90 
Claxton, Mrs. W. R, 20 
Clubs, 94-96 
C.M.E. churches, 71-72 
Cocke, J. H., 59 
Cocke, Joe, 61 
Cocke, Thomas Jones, 7, 8 
Coe, John Green, 12, 65, 79 
Coe, Joseph, 12, 15, 19,44,79 
Coe, Levin Hudson, 12, 60, 79-80 
Commercial establishments, 96, 97*, 98, 

102, 106-109, 110, 111, 112-113, 115, 

117, 120-121*, 122*, 124-125 
Cook, Thomas, 43 
Concordia, 13,96-97,98 
Cotton, Robert, 9, 25 
Cotton gins, 44-45, 108-109, 124, 125 
Cotton picking, 36 
Courthouses, 12, 18-23, 19* 
Cowan, James, 55 
Cowan, William B., 36 
Crawford: family, 23, 35, 48, 49; 

store, 3, 120, 121* 
C^rook. (iompton Newby, 56—57 
Crossett, Junius L., 42, 49 



Tonicssee (U)Uftty History Series 

Cumberland Prosb\ teiian churches. 

David. Amos, 11. 25,99 
Depression, Great: effect on schools. 

Dewitt. jack. 73 
Dickerson, Warner. 34 
Di\ision of coimt\. attempts at. 16-18 
Dobbins. A. M. C. 38 
Donnell. D. K.. 52 
Dortch, W. B.. 60 
Douglas. James, 25 

Earlv settlers, 6-14, 96, 98, 99, 105, 109- 
110. 111. 112, 114, 119-120, 123, 125 
Education, 50—55. See also Schools. 
Edwards. Meredith W., 44 
Egg Festival, 92 

Emerson, Horatio Elderbury, 35 
Episcopal churches, 67-69 
Erosion control, 41—43 
Evans, Lawrence G., 44 

Farlev, Annie Belle, 33 

Farley, John B., 33 

Farris, I. N., 45 

"Fayette Cares," 74 

Fayette County Airport, 32 

Favette County Bank, 48, 117 

Fayette County Board of Education, 

52. 55. 59, 76. 77 
Favette County Chamber of Commerce, 

47, 74 
Fayette County Farm Bureau, 41 
Favette County General Hospital, 59, 1 18- 

Fayette County Health Dep't., 58 
Fayette County High School, 53, 76, 77 
Fayette County Training School, 53, 76 
Fayette- Ware High School, 55, 77 
Feemster, M. B., 59 
Field Trials, National Championship, 93- 

Fires, 21, 105, 106, 109, 113, 126 
Ford, Edward Mumford, 44, 57 
Franklin, W B., 49 
Eraser, Hattie, 84-85 
Freeman, Walt, 61 
Frogmore, 8, 89-90, 114 

Callaway, 31, 58, 59, 62, 98-99 
Gardner, Shadrack, 13, 25 
Garrington, Seth, 23 

Gar\ in, Joseph C\. 58 

Geographv. 1-2 

Glosier. Marv Haves Willis. 67-68. 102 

Cxooden. Monroe, 75 

Govan. A. R., 44 

Government of county, 24, 127 

Graves, James H., 7 

Hancock Hall. 101. 104 

Hardy, T. T, 52 

Harper, Samuel B., 15 

Harris, E. E.. 58 

Harris, Whitson A., 58, 100 

Harvey, Alexander H., 34 

Harvey, M/M Charles, 34 

Harvev, Richard H., 34 

Harvey, M/M William, 34 

Havercamp, Harmon, 34 

Hawkins, Ray, 59 

Hayns, Andrew, 25 

Head, Daniel W, 9, 105 

Heads Ferry, 9, 25 

Hendon,John R., 18,51 

Henry, Percy D. 8c family, 49 

Hester, Graves, 10 

Hester, James E. 8c George S., 35 

Hickory Writhe, 51, 59, 62, 64, 69, 

123- 124 
Higgason, Josiah, 8, 27, 57, 90, 95, 1 14 
HiifJ.S., 58 
Hobson, H. R, 60 
Hobson, Joel L., 58 
Hobson, William H., 89 
Holcombe, James Philemon Jr, 12, 79 
Hotels, 102, 105, 106, 1L5-116* 
Howell, Franklin Merriam, 64 
Hudson, Thos., 25 
Humphreys, West, 60 
Hurdle, Ennis J. Jr., 46 

Indians, 4-5, 6* 

Industry, 43-47, 99, 1 1 1-1 12, 118, 128 

Jails, 23, 108* 

Jarman, John Sr., 13, 25 

Jarman, Shadrack, 10 

Jernigan, David, 10, 14, 15, 25; 43, 

65, 113 
Jobe.J. L.,49 
John S. Wilder Youth Development Center, 

Johnson, Daniel, 7, 14, 15-16, 25, 26 
Johnson, Edward, 61 
Johnson, Henry M., 11, 25, 27 



Jones, John Walker, 12 
Joyner s Clampgroiuul, 66"^ 


KaiT, James VV., 39 

Kennedy Sara Beaumont, 35-56 

Kimborough, James, \?>, 25 

Kirk, Heniv, 7, 13, 14, 15-16,61 

Knox, Robert, l^ 

Koonce, Jarman &: tamilv, 9, 15, 63 

Laconia, 31, 55, 69, 70, 124-125 
LaGrange, I, 3, 1 1, 16, 17, 26, 51, 77, 83, 

94, 99-104; banks, 47, 49; churches, 64, 

67-68, 71, 102; Civil War, 104; doctors; 

58; lawvers, 60 
LaGrange &: Memphis RR, 29 
Land use: changes in, 36-38; restrictions, 

Lawvers, 60—61 
Lenow, Joseph, 80, 123-124 
Lightle (or Lvlle) Mill, 44 
Lipskvs, 21, 117 
Livestock, 38-39 
Logging, 45 
Loggins, Walter T., 52 
Louisville &: Nashville RR, 31-32, 97 

Macon, 26, 51, 53, 57, 65, 69, 70, 72, 95, 

Maddox, Edgar A., 48 
Maris, William, 51 
Martin, Joseph, 53-54 
Martin, Samuel, 8, 17 
Matheson, John T, 89 
Matthews, John Payson III, 61 
Masons, 94—95 
Mayo, F. A., 60 
McAuley, Louis, 59 
McC^aughn Mill, 44 
McC:raw family, 97-98 
McKnight, Frank, 59 
Memphis & Charleston RR, 29-30, 83, 

103-104, 106, 112, 119 
Memphis to Louisville Airline RR, 31 
Methodist churches, 64-67 
Mewborn, W. A., 59 
Mexican War, 80 
Michie, Charles, 9, 100-101 
"Mike Brady," 30-31 
Milliken, William, 60 
Mills, 12,43-44 

Missionary Baptist churches, 72-73 
Montague, Young, 12 
Montgomery, William, 34 

Moody, Kjjps, 29 

Moorman, H. C., ()() 

Morris, Kastin, 29 

Morris, John W., 58, 86 

Morton, Virginia, 89 

Moscow, 17,^29, 32*, 44, 51, 95, 105-109; 
banks, 49; churches, 62, 65, 69, 70, 72, 
73; Civil W^ar, 83, 85, 106; doctors, 38, 
59; lawyers, 60 

Moscow Summer (iames, 92 

Murta, Joseph E., 59 

Musgrave, Ci. W., 59 

National Register of Historic Places, 

3, 100, 114, 120 
Navigation, 28, 44 
Nelson, William W., 57 
Newbern, Benjamin, 43 
Newspapers, 77-79 

Oakland, 31, 38, 49, 51, 53, 59, 109-1 10; 

churches; 62, 64, 65, 72-73 
Organization of county, 14-16 
Ovven, William, 11, 15, 16, 25, 43 
Owens, Henderson, 47 

Parham, R. H., 60 

Parks, Moses, 10-11 

Parks, Preston, 61 

Parsons, Duncan D., 86-89 

Parsons, Herb, 93 

Patterson, John T., 7, 14, 16,61 

Patterson, Robert G., 1 1, 121 

Payne, Hamilton C, 25 

Perkins, Mary, 9 

Person, Emanuel, Mose & Isaac, 45 

Person, Lamb, 54 

Petit, James, 47 

Petty, Kathryn Rogers, 34 

Petty, Royce, 34 

Physicians, 11,57-59, 113, 118-119, 121- 

122, 124, 125 
Pickens, Israel Sidney, 10 
Pickens, Lucy Holcombe, 101 
Piperton, 38, 62, 1 1 1 
Plemmons, Lloyd, 59 
Poor Peoples Clinic, 59 
Poore, Nola Burnette, 120 
Population, 3, 13, 74-75, 112, 119, 

123, 128 
Post offices, 13, 14, 97, 98, 99, 105, 111, 

114, 119, 123, 124-125 
Postmasters, 7, 11, 13, 14, 97, 99, 105, 1 1 1 

119, 123 


Toniessce Comity History Series 

PiHihvv e<: egg production. 38 

Pesb\ terian churches. 0:^-64 

PuUiam. \V. F.. 54 

PulHani taniih. 33. 38. GO. 89. 101. 114 

Ragan. Marcus B.. 13.25 

Ragland. Nathaniel, 13, 25 

Railroads, 3, 2^1-32, 97, 98, 103-104, 106, 

108, 110, 112, 119, 124 
Raleigh-LaGrange Rd., 26 
Ranisev. William^ 11-12 
Recreation. 89-94 
Reddick. T. K.. 60 
Reding. Iredell, 10 
Reid, Lillian Farley, 33 
Re\ olutionarv War veterans, 79 
Rhea, Karl, 59 
Rhea, Matthew, 51, 63 
Rhodes, N., 47 

Rice, Elizabeth Thompson, 61 
Rice, James, 59 
Rich, Curtis & family, 8-9 
Richardson, Robert V., 84-85 
Rives, J. B.,49 
Rivers, David Foote, 75 
Roads, 1-3, 24-28, 96-97, 105, 109, 111, 

117, 123, 124, 126, 128 
Robertson, John F., 112 
Rodgers, William John, 82 
Rogers, Robert R., 34 
Roman Catholic church, 71 
Rooks, A. J., 48 
Rose, Mrs. A. G., 52 
Rossville, 17, 37, 90-91, 92, 95, 1 12-1 13; 

banks, 48, 49; churches, 62, 65, 72, 73; 

Civil War, 84, doctors, 59 
Rossville Health Center, 59, 113 
Rossville Picnic, 92 
Ruffin, William, 45, 47 
Rush, Lee, 59 

Salmons Mill, 34, 44 
School desegregation, 76—77 
Schools, 50, 51, 54, 55, 98, 99, 103, 105, 
110, 112, 118, 120, 122, 124, 125, 126 
Schwrar, John M., 69 
Scruggs, E. R., 60 
Scruggs, P. T, 60, 64-65 
Shaw, M / M John Wiley, 90 
Shelton, James Harvey, 35, 50 
Shinault,' Walter, 12 
Silk industry, 35-36, 45 
Simmons, Guy, 56 
Simpson, Jesse, 8, 25 

Simpson, Joseph. 8 

Smith. E."B.,47 

Sneed, John L. L, 60 

Somerville, 3, 15-16, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 44, 
45, 50, 53, 77-78, 92, 94-95, 1 14-1 19; 
banks, 47-48, 50; churches, 62, 63, 64- 
65. 69, 70, 71-72, 73; Civil War, 83, 84- 
85; doctors, 57, 58-59; lawyers, 60 

"Somerville Accommodation, The," 
30-3 1 

Somerville Bank & Trust, 21, 49-50, 
86, 117 

Spurlock, Matthew, 44 

Stainback, (Charles Ashley Sr., 60 

Stainback, Charles A. Jn, 60-61 

Stainback, Ingram, 60 

Steger, J. J., 60 

Steverson, J. J. & E. M., 59 

Suburban growth, 126-128 

Summers, Julius B., 52 

Summers, Paul, 61 

Summers, Paul Garvin, 61, 120 

"Tall, Stephen. '\S^^ Crook, Compton. 

Tanyard, 51 

Tarpley, William H., 58 

Tarver, Edmund, 10, 14 

Taylor, Edmund, 33-34 

Taylor, Rhea V. IV, 34 

Teague, Carroll M., 35 

League, Edward, 12 

Teague, William Jr., 12 

Tennessee Midland RR, 31-32, 1 10, 

124, 126 
Terry, Thomas H., 58 
Thornton, Hamilton, 13, 16, 25 
Thornton, Robert Glover, 6-7, 14,, 18, 

24, 26 
Tomlin, Troy W, 61 
Tornadoes, 74, 102, 109 
Trigg, John, 28 
Turner, W. A., 60 
Turnley, George H., 59 
Turnpike companies, 26-27 

Vaughn, Andrew Jefferson, 81-82 
Voter registration drives, 75-76 

W. P. Ware High School, 76, 77 
Wade, John, 35 
Waldrup,J. W, 71 
Walker, Job, 35, 119 
Walker, Simon, 50 
Walleys, the John, 100 



Warof 1812, 79-80 

Ware, Margaret, 54 

Ware, W. P., 54 

Warr, Americus V., 59, 95, 1 13 

Warren, Asburv, 60 

Washington, j. S., 58, 85-86 

Webb. Daniel, 45 

West, F. K., 59 

Wheeler, J. M., 58 

Wiggins, James R., 35 

Wilder, James, 61,95 

Wilder, John Shelton, 42, 61, 129-130 

Wilkinson, W. B., 58 

Williamson, Alexander, 47 

Williston, 3, 48, 51, 53, 58, 62, 65, 69-70, 

Wolf River, 42-43* 
World War I, 86-89 
World War 11, 89 
Wright, Ihomas, 68-69 

Yancev, Thomas Bragg, 50, 86 
Yellow Fever, 58, 64, 69, 109, 121-122 
Yum-Yum, 13,51 

About the Author 

Dorothy Rich Morton was born in Moscow, Tennessee, on 
January 25, 1914, to Charles H. and Corlea Hood Rich. She was 
married on September 3, 1932, to Joseph Raymond "Jack" Mor- 
ton. She attended Memphis State University where she earned 
the B. S. and M. A. degrees. Beginning her teaching career in 
1943, she served as principal of Moscow Elementary School and 
Director of Instruction for Fayette County Schools before her 
retirement in 1977. She has served as County Historian since 

Actively involved in the work of the Delta Kappa Gamma 
Society International, a honor society for women educators, she 
has served the state as treasurer, president, and parliamentarian, 
and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Educational 

She is a long time member of the Moscow United Methodist 
Church, serving on the Administrative Board, as Sunday School 
teacher, and as organist. 

The Mortons have two children, five grandchildren, and 
three great-grandchildren. Since their retirement, they have 
traveled extensively, visiting all 50 states of the Union, many 
parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Holy